‘Pain compliance’: Video shows Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling Black motorist

Body camera video captured the beating of a Black motorist by a Louisiana State Police trooper during a May 2019 traffic stop.
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 8:11 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (AP) -- Graphic body camera video kept secret for more than two years shows a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight — an attack the trooper defended as “pain compliance.”

“I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!” Aaron Larry Bowman could be heard screaming between blows on the body camera video obtained by The Associated Press.

The May 2019 beating following a traffic stop near Bowman’s Monroe home left him with a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close.

It came less than three weeks after troopers from the same embattled agency punched, stunned and dragged another Black motorist, Ronald Greene, before he died in their custody on a rural roadside in northeast Louisiana.

Footage of Greene’s death similarly remained under wraps before AP obtained and published it earlier this year.

Federal prosecutors are examining both cases in a widening investigation into police brutality and potential cover-ups involving both troopers and state police brass.

State police didn’t investigate the attack on Bowman until 536 days after it occurred - even though it was captured on body camera - and only did so weeks after a civil lawsuit was filed.

Bowman’s beating was carried out by Jacob Brown, a white trooper who, according to state police records, tallied 23 use-of-force incidents dating to 2014, including 19 on Black people.

Brown faces state charges in Bowman’s beating and two others involving Black motorists, including a 2019 arrest when he was caught on video slamming a handcuffed suspect against a police cruiser and throwing him to the ground.

Brown came upon the scene after deputies pulled Bowman over for a traffic violation, forcibly removed him from his vehicle and took him to the ground.

The trooper told investigators he “was in the area and was trying to get involved.”

Wielding an 8-inch aluminum flashlight reinforced with a pointed end to shatter car glass, Brown jumped out of his state police vehicle and began bashing Bowman on his head and body within two seconds of “initial contact” - unleashing 18 strikes in 24 seconds, detectives wrote in an investigative report.

Bowman tried to explain several times that he was a dialysis patient, had done nothing wrong and wasn’t resisting.

Bowman later can be heard moaning, still on the ground. “I’m bleeding!” he said. “They hit me in the head with a flashlight!”

Brown, 31, later said Bowman had struck a deputy and that the blows were “pain compliance” to get Bowman into handcuffs.

Investigators who reviewed Brown’s video determined his use of force was not reasonable or necessary.

The trooper did not respond to several messages seeking comment.

Bowman, 46, denied hitting anyone and is not seen on the video being violent with officers.

But he still faces a list of charges, including battery of a police officer, resisting an officer and the traffic violation for which he was initially stopped, improper lane usage.

Brown not only failed to report his use of force but mislabeled his footage as a “citizen encounter” in what investigators called “an intentional attempt to hide the video from any administrative review.”

Bowman himself hadn’t seen the footage until recently, when prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department showed it to him and his attorney.

“I kept thinking I was going to die that night,” Bowman told the AP through tears in a recent interview.

“It was like reliving it all over again. By watching it, I broke down all over again.”

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved.