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A former Louisville police officer who hit a kneeling protester in the back of the head during the 2020 racial justice demonstrations will spend time in federal prison. 

Cory Evans, 34, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison, as well as an additional two years of supervised release. Evans pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under the color of law last August, shortly after he resigned from the Louisville Metro Police DepartmentThe charges stem from an incident that happened in May of 2020, days after racial justice protests following the police killing of Breonna Taylor broke out in downtown Louisville. 

Corey Evans

Evans admitted to following a group of protesters around downtown to arrest them for unlawful assembly and curfew violations. One of the protesters, identified in court documents only as M.C., dropped to their knees and put their hands in the air to signal their surrender. That’s when Evans struck them in the head with his riot stick. 

The incident was investigated by both the FBI and LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit. Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Louisville Field Office, said in a statement that the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to investigating police officers who break the law.

“In order for the public to have full trust and confidence in the law enforcement officers who have sworn to protect them, those officers who choose to abuse their authority must be held accountable,” Cohen said.

Even though Evans admitted in court to using objectively unreasonable force against a surrendering protester, he denied it was motivated by malice in an interview with WAVE-3 on Tuesday.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.