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THE INVESTIGATORS: Former Trooper facing charges in beating of Aaron Bowman pleads not guilty

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 11:55 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:46 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (WAFB) - Former Trooper Jacob Brown has pleaded not guilty to excessive force charges today during a virtual arraignment in a Monroe courtroom.

Attorneys say this is a first step even though they were disappointed that Brown was not detained. They call it a step forward but one that falls short of justice.

“We’re hoping to go forward and we’re hoping to see change. Yes, an arraignment happened but he’s still out and still working and doing whatever. We are still heartbroken and it’s hard to keep doing this but we will keep fighting for justice in this case,” said attorney Donecia Banks-Miley.

“We’re very disappointed in that but obviously we’re happy for this first step.” Bowman’s attorneys say the fact that the former trooper is able to remain out on the street is a slap in the face.

”We’re outraged in what happened today. We’re upset and we’re demanding justice. I do not feel that justice was served this morning by allowing Jacob Brown to be allowed to go to work and continue to have a job and work, support himself and his family as if nothing happened,” said Banks-Miley.

“We’re exhausted in a lot of ways and the reason that we continue to show up is that we have certain expectations as American citizens,” attorney Lee Merritt added.

Brown was indicted on federal charges last month in the brutal beating of Bowman during a traffic stop in May 2019. Brown faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, if convicted in the case.

Court records obtained by the 9News Investigators reveal the former trooper is accused of beating Bowman 18 times within 24 seconds, using a flashlight that was enhanced enough to break glass.

In a recent interview with WAFB’s news partners in Monroe, Governor John Bel Edwards called the former trooper’s actions hard to watch.

”Well, obviously, I was very disappointed and distressed,” Edwards said. “I mean, it’s conduct that you never expect to see how the people who are in uniform and it fell so far below the standard that you and everybody should expect that clearly, things needed to be done. Changes needed to be made and that’s what actually happened.”

Since Bowman’s arrest, LSP has put sweeping changes in place, including installing a new leader to head the agency, enhancing use of force training and banning chokeholds and the use of certain weapons on a person’s head and neck.

LSP is also bringing in an outside agency to figure out what other changes can be made.

”So there’s been an awful lot of changes made and obviously we’ve got a long ways to go to fully restore trust and confidence of the people that are served by the state police and we’re going to continue to be transparent and we’re going to continue to be responsive because we want people to have confidence in the state police, regardless of who they are and what they look like, where they live and so forth,” the Governor added.

Even with those changes taking shape, Bowman’s attorneys say they won’t be satisfied until more charges are handed down and more officers are held accountable.

”There has not been true change,” said Banks-Miley. “We are not going to be satisfied with one piece of the puzzle. We want justice for everyone involved.”

An emotional Bowman was joined by his attorneys at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Bowman said he wants nothing more than to see justice in the case. “I’m praying that we all get justice in this case,” said Bowman.

“It bothers me a lot and it hurts.” “Aaron Bowman is still trying to find a way to live and to fight for himself. I do not feel that justice was served this morning by allowing Jacob Brown to still remain free and to be able to go to work and support himself at this time. We are outraged,” said Banks-Miley.

Attorney Lee Merritt said Wednesday that he is tired of talk and he wants action in the case.

He said the case is not being taken seriously and something has to happen now in order for real justice to be obtained.

“This is not something that we need another damn apology for. We want specific action designed to deal with the real problems within the Louisiana State Police Department,” said Merritt.

Attorneys say a status conference in the case is scheduled for November 15, 2021.

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