Beating of Curtis Harris & Wilbur Lee Henderson

Beating of Curtis Harris & Wilbur Lee Henderson

In 1962, two Black men – Curtis Harris and Wilber Lee Henderson – were beaten by five Concordia Parish police officers, including Ferriday policemen Frank DeLaughter and William Howell “Junior” Harp, and Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies Bill Ogden, Ike Cowan Jr. and Roy George Barlow.

From his prison cell at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, victim Harris wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney in Shreveport informing federal officials that the local cops attempted to make Harris falsely confess to breaking into a local store and stealing a package of undershirts. Both Harris and Henderson described the beatings, noting that they were forced to lie on their stomachs while being struck with a leather strap multiple times, causing both men to bleed profusely.

Afterward, police officers secretly threatened both victims to either plead guilty to the charges or face brutal retaliation. Both men entered guilty pleas and were sent to the state prison. Only 11 days passed from the time of their arrests to their arrival in Angola following sentencing.

Ferriday Mayor Woody Davis, who had hired DeLaughter as a police officer and grew to regret it, fired DeLaughter after the beating. But DeLaughter was quickly hired as a deputy by Sheriff Noah Cross.

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