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State trooper facing battery charges after use-of-force investigation

20140820 LA State Police

LA State Police

NEW ORLEANS – A Louisiana State Police trooper is on forced leave and facing a simple battery charge after an investigation into excessive force while arresting someone in New Orleans.

According to a news release from State Police, the alleged excessive force happened Feb. 11, when Master Trooper John Neal spotted a reported stolen vehicle stopped in traffic at Almonaster Boulevard and Louisa Street.

Neal confronted the suspects in the vehicle, but one of the occupants, a 19-year-old male, fled on foot. He was detained shortly after by other troopers in the area.

Investigators said Neal approached the victim, who was handcuffed behind his back and lying face down on the ground, “offering no resistance.”

Another trooper said Neal kicked him in the head while he was still handcuffed.

According to State Police, Neal raised the victim to his feet and escorted him to a nearby patrol unit, where he forced the victim’s head into a rear window, causing it to shatter. This action was captured by civilian surveillance video and body camera videos from Neal and another trooper at the scene.

Neal took the 19-year-old to University Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries.  The victim was released from the hospital shortly after and booked into the Orleans Justice Center for possession of a stolen auto, resisting an officer, and littering.

Investigators said they found no evidence that would justify Neal’s use of force on the suspect.

Neal was subsequently arrested on one count of simple battery. Neal has been on forced leave since the investigation began.