Secret panel investigates La. state troopers after excessive force reports

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The Associated Press released new body camera footage of a May 2020 arrest in Franklin Parish after a high-speed chase. State police say Antonio Harris got out of his car and immediately laid on the ground.

Investigators say three troopers used excessive and unjustifiable force.

“I’ll break your [expletive] arm if you don’t relax this [expletive] You understand me?”

More allegations of police brutality perpetrated by Monroe-based troopers triggered a secret internal investigation.

“I just laid there, and as I got a chance, I rolled over to my side with my arm in the air. He said, ‘didn’t I tell you to stay down?” I said, “I’m down.” He started whacking me with the flashlight,” Aaron Bowman recently recalled to the AP.

The AP said seven Louisiana State Patrol officials are digging into thousands of hours of bodycam footage from the past two years in Troop F, which is based in Monroe.

“Why was the media the driving force to uncover the brutality and excessive force, and why didn’t the state police catch it internally earlier?” questioned Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche.

The panel is looking for signs of excessive force, racial profiling during traffic pursuits and stops.

They’re also checking to see if troopers mislabeled, turned off, or tried to hide body camera videos from internal investigators.

“I think what it shows is a shocking and disturbing disrespect for the principles of that agency and also demonstrates that there was literally no concern or fear for being held accountable for violating departmental rules and for violating state law,” said Goyeneche.

The former prosecutor and crime expert said this investigation is strikingly similar to the Danziger Bridge shootings that happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

“Officers responded to that call, and they opened fire on unarmed citizens that were merely walking across the bridge,” Goyeneche explained.

Six people were shot. Two of them died.

“And the police engaged in a cover-up that went beyond just the officers on the bridge. It included people in upper management that were part of the cover-up,” Goyeneche continued.

Goyenche said the officers in that case, were eventually convicted, and a 122-page consent decree demanding an overhaul of the city’s police force was put in effect.

He believes this leaves hope for accountability—that will likely come from the federal government’s investigation.

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