A North Carolina jury says a State Highway Patrol trooper fired after reporting a fellow officer wrongly hit an unarmed suspect should get $1.1 million in damages.

The Wake County jury decided Wednesday that superiors willfully violated state whistleblower protections by firing former Trooper Reginald Newberne in 2001. That means the award could be tripled.

Newberne was a trooper for more than a decade before commanders said he hadn't been truthful. His lawyers said Newberne was told to report what he saw after three other troopers arrested a suspected drunken driver in Cumberland County. Newberne later reported that one of the troopers admitted hurting his hand hitting the suspect.

Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry says jurors weren't told the motorist's lawsuit against arresting troopers failed, indicating Newberne wasn't a whistleblower.