BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The ACLU of Louisiana has released a statement in response to allegations that four Louisiana State Police officers beat a Black man who had already surrendered following a high-speed chase, and later exchanged several text messages bragging about the incident.
According to court filings, the LSP officers from Troop F joked in a group text about beating a Black man after a high-speed chase last year, saying the “whoopin” would give the man “nightmares for a long time.”
“Racism in policing is systemic and deadly,” ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Alanah Odoms said in the statement. “This is yet another vicious account of Louisiana State Police officers brutally attacking an unarmed Black man as he surrendered to them. We are shocked and saddened by the allegations that these officers not only engaged in this disgusting act of violence, but also bragged and joked about it afterward.”
The May arrest of 29-year-old Antonio Harris — who authorities say was beaten by troopers even after he “immediately surrendered” — bears a strong resemblance to the State Police pursuit a year earlier that ended in the still-unexplained death of another Black motorist, Ronald Greene.
Greene’s death was captured on body-worn camera footage the agency refuses to release and remains the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.
Brown, 30, who faces charges in two other excessive-force cases, had pulled Harris over for a minor traffic violation on Interstate 20 in Richland Parish when Harris reentered his vehicle and fled, State Police said.
The ensuing chase spanned 29 miles (47 kilometers), reached speeds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and ended only after deputy sheriffs deployed a “tire deflation device” that caused Harris to drive into a ditch, the court records show.
An internal investigation found the responding troopers, who are white, attacked Harris even though he had surrendered and “laid face down (prone) on the ground and extended his arms away from his body and his legs spread apart.”
“This horrifying news underscores the systemic culture of racism and impunity that pervades not only the Louisiana State Police but the very institution of policing – and reinforces the immediate need for top-to-bottom accountability and transformational reform,” Odoms said Tuesday.
“Louisiana must finally reckon with the scope and impact of the centuries of police violence and racism Black and Brown people have experienced.
We need to abolish qualified immunity now, and stop shielding officers from liability for constitutional violations, including fatal use of force. The only way forward is to shift power away from police officers, police unions, and their lobbying associations, and to the communities that have suffered the most police violence. We must also establish alternatives to police response for people in crisis. We recommend divesting from current policing budgets and reinvesting in life-affirming alternatives to policing that will keep communities safe.
The ACLU of Louisiana will fight as long as it takes to restore accountability and end the epidemic of police violence against Black and Brown communities once and for all.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.