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DOJ charges LMPD officer for allegedly hitting kneeling protester in head during Breonna Taylor protests

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 7:13 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For the first time since civil unrest began in Louisville 13 months ago, an LMPD officer has been indicted for his alleged actions against a protester, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters have learned.

According to the Department of Justice, Cory Evans is facing charges of violating a person’s civil rights. In a complaint filed in federal court Wednesday, Evans is said to have hit a protester being arrested in the back of the head with a riot stick. The document states the protester was already kneeling on the ground with their hands in the air when Evans hit them.

The alleged incident happened on May 31, 2020, during protests that followed last year’s death of Breonna Taylor, according to the complaint.

Evans is the first officer to be charged for a specific claim made by a protester since the unrest began in May 2020.

Since then, the FBI Public Corruption and Civil Rights Task Force has been investigating potential civil rights violations.

In 2019, former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad exonerated Evans in a use-of-force allegation. That complaint stemmed from a traffic stop in December 2018 in front of a Kroger store at 27th and Broadway.

At first, cellphone video showed officers struggling with a suspect on the ground. Evans was seen punching the man in the back while trying to get his hands in handcuffs. Body-camera video later showed the preceding incident when the suspect rammed Evans to the ground before the cellphone recording began. Evans was cleared from any wrongdoing.

Evans filed a defamation lawsuit this year based on claims he’d planted pills in a car during a DUI stop in 2018. Evans claimed a video was edited to hurt his reputation. The attorney in that case later took the video down from YouTube. That lawsuit is still pending.

Evans received a letter of reprimand for searching through a student’s backpack at Byck Elementary School without proper justification, according to a letter of discipline obtained by WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters.

Evans worked as an officer for LMPD since 2014. He previously worked in the First Division, which covers downtown Louisville and the Portland and Russell neighborhoods.

Evans has received several commendations for his roles in narcotics and robbery investigations, as well as for helping shooting victims. He also was commended for saving a woman’s life who had jumped off the Rail Yard Bridge into the Ohio River.

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