Eight police officers in Louisiana were indicted on charges of excessive force for allegedly beating two men who had raised their arms in surrender when pulled over for seatbelt violations.
Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart announced Tuesday that each of the officers in Shreveport has been charged with one count of malfeasance in office in connection to the arrest in January.
The Jan. 24 incident began when an officer attempted to pull over driver Chico Bell and his passenger, Damon Robinson, for seatbelt violations as the two men were leaving a private home.
The men didn't stop the vehicle, and a pursuit began, with video from a police car "showing that Bell threw several unknown objects from the window of his Chevrolet truck during the chase,” the district attorney wrote in a press release.
Dash-cam footage from a sheriff's deputy's vehicle shows what happened when the two men stopped their car, the district attorney said.
“Bell and Robinson raised their hands, and then stuck both hands up out of the windows of the truck, in an apparent attempt to surrender without resistance,” the release said.
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But Shreveport officers pulled Bell from the truck through the driver’s window, according to the prosecutor, and “began striking, kicking, and tasing him.” Medical records show he suffered injuries, including a broken orbital plate, the release said.
Robinson was meanwhile "punched multiple times through the open truck window" by one Shreveport officer as his "hands were being held by other officers," the district attorney said.
“SPD officers then took Robinson to the ground, where one officer apparently struck him in the face with a flashlight, despite Robinson’s hands being behind his back,” the release said. Robinson's nose was broken “in several places” from the attack.
A sheriff's deputy at the scene said the violence occurred even though Robinson's was compliant during the arrest, which police body- and dash-cam footage verified, the district attorney said.
The indicted officers are: Aaron Jaudon, D’Andre Jackson, Mark Ordoyne, William Isenhour, Christopher McConnell, Brandon Walker, Treveion Brooks, and David Francis.
Christopher McConnell was fired on May 8, Mark Ordoyne resigned on June 17, and the other six officers were placed on leave, Angie Willhite, a public information officer with the Shreveport PD, told NBC News in an email on Wednesday.
The city's police chief, Ben Raymond, said in a statement to NBC News that he launched an investigation on the day of the arrest.
“All parties are innocent until proven guilty and in order to preserve the officers rights to due process I will not make any further comments at this time,” the chief said.
In response to the charges, Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins told NBC affiliate KTAL that he is working toward police reform.
“The nation is going through a reckoning because, in the past, officers were too infrequently held accountable for bad policing,” Perkins said in a statement. “While it isn’t pretty, this is the change citizens are demanding.”
Stewart said police recovered “very small amounts of ecstasy, cocaine and a stolen gun” that were thrown from the window of the car during the chase. Bell was arrested for possession of controlled substances, obstruction of justice, cyberstalking, and a fugitive matter, and Robinson for resisting an officer. The district attorney dismissed all charges against the two men because of the alleged excessive force used.
An attorney representing three of the eight officers — Brooks, Jackson and Isenhour — said he believes his clients will be exonerated in court.
“We’re very disappointed in the indictment. These officers were doing their job that day,” lawyer Dhu Thompson said, according to KTAL, “It appears from the early evidence, of course we’re still gathering facts and investigating it, but these individuals chose to run from the police, endangering themselves, the officers and society.”
It was not immediately clear who is representing the other five officers.