LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Louisville police officer has been charged with breaking federal law for hitting a protester in the back of the head with a riot baton last May during the Breonna Taylor protests.
Cory P. Evans is charged in court records with violating the protester’s constitutional rights on May 31, 2020. Evans, in his capacity as an officer, prosecutors write, “hit MC in the back of the head with a riot baton while MC was kneeling with his hands in the air, surrendering for arrest. “
The protester, identified as MC, was injured in the incident, according to the court file.
The Louisville Metro Police Department did not immediately respond to questions from the Courier Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, about Evans’ status with the department.
Brian Butler, the attorney representing Evans, declined to comment when reached by email on Wednesday. The case was turned over to United States District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings.
According to city salary data, Evans has been employed by the city since 2014, when he was a police recruit. Prosecutors allege Evans “willfully deprived” the protester of the unreasonable right of seizure, which includes the right not to be subjected to “unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer.”
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Evans, according to court records, was acting “under the guise of the law.”
The Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice can charge people under nine Title 18 civil rights statutes, including deprivation of rights under the guise of law.
This makes it a crime for anyone acting in the name of the law, including the police or other public officials, to deprive someone of their constitutional rights.
This is not the first time that Evans has been accused of assaulting a citizen.
In 2018, Evans was filmed repeatedly hitting Jarrus Ransom, a black man, after being removed from his car during a traffic stop. Ransom’s photo from Metro Corrections showed him with a neck brace and a swollen eye.
Ransom sued City and Evans as well as officers Kyle Carroll and Sarah Nicolas in August 2019 for what he called a “vicious assault” and an attempt to “cover up the truth”.
This lawsuit has since been transferred to federal courts in the Western District of Kentucky. The city was dismissed from the case, but Evans and the other officers remain the accused, court records show.
Evans was ultimately cleared by then-leader Steve Conrad in December 2019 of policy violations for lack of courtesy and use of excessive force. He did not face any disciplinary action in this case.
All charges against Ransom following the traffic shutdown have either been dropped or settled out of court.
The FBI is investigating several other LMPD agents, the Courier Journal previously reported.
Agent Dusten Dean is under federal investigation for shooting pepperballs at TV reporter Katilin Rust and cameraman James Dobson on May 29. Rust told the Courier Journal that she had been interviewed by the FBI about the incident.
Additionally, Chief Erika Shield told Louisville Metro Council members last week that the FBI was investigating allegations that two officers threw drinks at people in the West End.
“Everything I’ve gotten to date is largely hearsay,” Shields said at a meeting of the public safety committee. “My feeling is that this will be another black eye on the department, and it’s going to show very, very poor judgment on the part of a few selected people on this department.”
In addition, the FBI continues to investigate the death on March 13, 2020, of Taylor in his apartment in South Louisville. The FBI has not provided a timeline as to when this case could end.
His death, along with the death of George Floyd, galvanized a summer of racial justice protests and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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The charges against Evans come less than two months after the US Department of Justice announced that it had launched a broad investigation into the models and practices of the LMPD.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the investigation would examine whether the department used unreasonable force against protesters, engaged in unconstitutional searches and seizures and discriminated against people based on their race.
Three Columbus, Ohio, police officers, including a training officer who was a member of the city’s Community Safety Advisory Board, will also face misdemeanor charges in connection with their actions during protests against racial injustice. last summer.
Follow Darcy Costello on Twitter @dctello.
Contribution: Bethany Bruner, The Columbus Dispatch