2 year sentence for ex-officer who struck kneeling protester

February 2, 2022 GMT
FILE - People demonstrate during a protest over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison for striking a kneeling protester in the back of the head with a riot stick during protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. The Justice Department says in a statement that U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings handed down the sentence on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 for 34-year-old Cory P. Evans, who will also have two years of supervised release. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
FILE - People demonstrate during a protest over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison for striking a kneeling protester in the back of the head with a riot stick during protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. The Justice Department says in a statement that U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings handed down the sentence on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 for 34-year-old Cory P. Evans, who will also have two years of supervised release. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
FILE - People demonstrate during a protest over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison for striking a kneeling protester in the back of the head with a riot stick during protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. The Justice Department says in a statement that U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings handed down the sentence on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 for 34-year-old Cory P. Evans, who will also have two years of supervised release. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
FILE - People demonstrate during a protest over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison for striking a kneeling protester in the back of the head with a riot stick during protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. The Justice Department says in a statement that U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings handed down the sentence on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 for 34-year-old Cory P. Evans, who will also have two years of supervised release. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
FILE - People demonstrate during a protest over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. A former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison for striking a kneeling protester in the back of the head with a riot stick during protests over the death of Breonna Taylor. The Justice Department says in a statement that U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings handed down the sentence on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 for 34-year-old Cory P. Evans, who will also have two years of supervised release. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Louisville police officer has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison for striking a kneeling protester in the back of the head with a riot stick during protests over the death of Breonna Taylor, authorities said.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings handed down the sentence Tuesday for Cory P. Evans, 34, who will also have two years of supervised release, a statement from the Justice Department said.

Evans pleaded guilty last year to using unreasonable force on a detainee. Evans struck the protester, who was identified as “M.C.,” while the person was kneeling with hands in the air, according to the Department of Justice.

The incident occurred during the early nights of protests in Louisville on May 31, 2020, a few days after Taylor’s boyfriend’s 911 call was released. Evans was downtown that night on curfew duty.

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The Department of Justice said Evans admitted in court to striking the protester. The victim suffered a head gash and fell forward after they were struck, the release said. Evans resigned from the force in June.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot to death in her apartment by officers serving a narcotics warrant. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, told investigators he thought an intruder was breaking in and fired his gun. No drugs were found.

“Former officer Evans abused his authority by violently retaliating against a surrendering arrestee who had been exercising his First Amendment rights during a demonstration in Louisville, during the racial justice demonstrations in the Spring of 2020,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable officers who violate their oath and the Constitution.”

Evans told WAVE-TV in an interview that he didn’t hit the protester with malice but to prevent him from reaching for a potential weapon.

“Even if they are in the act of surrendering, they might not be surrendering,” he said. “Especially after these people, they shot at us, they threw Molotov cocktails at us, they threw bricks at us, they chanted ‘death to pigs, death to cops, kill LMPD,’ all kinds of stuff,” he said. “So why would I trust somebody to suddenly do the right thing? I don’t trust these people at this point so I want to do what I have to do to go home to my little boys.”