MONROE, La. A former Louisiana State Police trooper accused of brutally beating a defenseless Black suspect 18 times with a flashlight last year pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Jacob Brown, 31, entered his plea by videoconference to a federal civil rights charge over the May 2020 arrest and beating of Aaron Larry Bowman.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kayla McClusky of the Western District of Louisiana set a $50,000 unsecured bond for Brown, who has remained free since his indictment last month. Prosecutors did not object to Brown staying free while he awaits trial.
The federal charge against Brown, who is accused of depriving Bowman of his rights under color of law, may not be his last.
Brown — the son of a former high-ranking State Police officer Bob Brown — was booked over the past year on state charges in Bowman's arrest and two other use-of-force incidents involving Black motorists.
"Each step toward justice and accountability for one is also a step in the right direction for us all," attorneys for Bowman said in a statement preceding the arraignment. "We stand together in solidarity with a focus on even greater victories to come. We are just getting started."
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An ongoing federal investigation is probing possible civil rights charges against troopers in those other incidents, as well as in the brutal May 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene that ended with his death in Union Parish. Jacob Brown was not involved in the Greene case.
Just a few weeks after Greene's beating, Bowman, 46, received stitches on his head, a broken jaw and broken ribs after Brown assaulted him with a tactical flashlight designed for breaking glass. Police reports show he struck Bowman 18 times.
The incident was among at least four that federal investigators are reviewing related to Monroe-based Troop F, the overwhelmingly White unit at the center of a scandal that has engulfed State Police.
Bowman watched remotely with his attorney on Wednesday as Brown entered his not guilty plea. McClusky set the next court date for Nov. 15.
If convicted, Brown could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Brown resigned from State Police early this year while facing state criminal charges.
His attorney, Scott Wolleson, argued against any bond for Brown, saying he was not a flight risk. Wolleson also noted that Brown has posted bond on state charges that are on hold pending the federal investigation.
"He's been here. He's working. He's got family here," Wolleson said.