SELMA, Ala. (AP) — A prosecutor said two on-duty white Alabama officers brutally beat a Black man five months ago after the victim got into a road-rage incident with the wife of one of the officers.
Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson announced felony assault charges against former Selma police officer Matthew Blaine Till and former Dallas County sheriff’s Deputy John Nicholas Taccone at a news conference Wednesday, news outlets reported.
According to court documents, Till’s wife got into the dispute with the victim on April 30 in Selma and called her husband to let him know about the incident with a “black guy in a red Charger.”
Both officers then arrived at the scene and eventually pursued the driver of that car. When the man pulled over, court documents said the officers approached him and got into a physical struggle with him, striking his head and face.
Till had tried to put handcuffs on the man before the struggle ensued, AL.com reported. During the 90-second encounter, Jackson said Till also pulled out a gun and told the victim that “he’s going to kill him.”
“They Tased him multiple times, threw him to the ground and were punching and kicking him,” Jackson said. “It was a brutal beating.” All this was happening while the victim was repeatedly asking the officers “What did I do?” Jackson said.
The unidentified Black man eventually got into his car and fled, but crashed his vehicle a short time later. He was then transported to a holding cell at the city’s police department where federal agents interviewed him about weapons that were found inside his car, court documents said.
“These officers escalated a personal matter that should have been a traffic stop at worse into a Rocky Horror beating,” Jackson said.
Till was fired, and Taccone is no longer employed with the sheriff’s office, according to the prosecutor. It was not immediately clear if either of the two men had an attorney who could comment.
“Public officials are held to a higher standard,” Jackson said, according to the Selma Times-Journal. “It was a bullying situation. The badge is a symbol of integrity and protection.”
Till pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in federal court last week for telling Taconne not to speak with anyone about the call he received from his wife before the incident. A federal judge has set his sentencing date to Dec. 28.
Both men were then charged Tuesday with felony second-degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and obstructing governmental operations.