A theme ran through several of the week’s top AP stories: They shed light on issues fundamental to democracy that no one would have known about without the AP. Nowhere was that theme more evident than in the most recent investigative piece by law enforcement reporters Jim Mustian and Jake Bleiberg, who exclusively obtained body camera video kept secret for more than two years showing a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight, an attack the trooper defended as “pain compliance.”
The dramatic footage of the May 2019 beating of Aaron Larry Bowman — who could be heard wailing between blows, “I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting” — was featured with credit to AP on news broadcasts by all three major U.S. networks and in matcher stories by The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.
The coverage by Mustian and Bleiberg also included exclusively obtained investigative documents on the case and an emotional all-formats interview with Bowman, conducted just a few weeks earlier, in which he recounted the beating that left him with a broken jaw, broken ribs, a broken wrist and a deep gash in his head. The piece was just latest in a series of AP exclusives on the Louisiana State Police that began with stunning coverage of the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene by troopers from the same headquarters. Greene’s arrest was kept under wraps before AP obtained video and published it earlier this year. Federal prosecutors are now examining both cases in a widening investigation into police brutality and potential cover-ups involving both troopers and state police brass.
This week’s story, accompanied by a video package from Stacey Plaisance and photographs by Rogelio Solis, saw strong play online with 225,000 pageviews on AP News and was AP’s most-engaged story of the week with readers.