A Louisville police officer violated federal law when he hit a kneeling demonstrator in the back of the head with a riot baton during a Breonna Taylor protest, prosecutors said.
Cory P. Evans, an officer with the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, was indicted Wednesday on a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law for his actions on May 31, 2020, according to court papers filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court’s Western District of Kentucky.
“Cory P. Evans, while acting under color of law, willfully deprived arrestee M.C. of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free of an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer,” court documents said.
The court added that Evans “struck M.C. in the back of the head with a riot stick while M.C. was kneeling with hands in the air, surrendering for arrest. The offense resulted in bodily injury to M.C.”
Louisville police did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. Evans’ attorney, Brian Butler, declined comment.
Evans’ indictment marks the first against a Louisville police officer since the city saw a wave of protests stemming back more than a year, according to NBC affiliate WAVE of Louisville. The May 31 demonstration was in response to Taylor’s death, the outlet reported.
Taylor, 26, was shot in her home on March 13, 2020, after Louisville police officers executed a no-knock warrant at her residence. During the early morning raid, Taylor was killed by police in a shooting. Officers opened fire after Taylor’s boyfriend, believing an intruder was attempting to break in, fired a gun toward the door.
The botched raid targeted Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, a convicted drug dealer. That man, Jamarcus Glover, has said Taylor had no involvement in the drug trade.
Evans, who was not part of the raid, has worked for Louisville police since 2014, according to WAVE.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported Evans, who makes nearly $60,000 annually, has faced complaints of using excessive force before. In 2018, he was accused of repeatedly punching a motorist following a traffic stop, according to the newspaper. The driver sued the city, Evans and two other officers. Evans was cleared by his then-police chief of using excessive force, and was not disciplined. However, he and the other officers remain defendants in the lawsuit, the Courier-Journal reported.