Louisiana police officers charged with fatal arrest of a Black driver

FARMERVILLE, La. — Five Louisiana law enforcement officers were charged Thursday with state crimes ranging from negligent manslaughter to misconduct in Ronald Greene’s fatal 2019 arrest. The long-hidden body camera video shows white cops beating, stunning, and “I’m scared!”

Greene’s bloody death on a roadside in northeastern Louisiana, until an Associated Press investigation uncovered a cover-up and sparked scrutiny by senior Louisiana State Police officials, a comprehensive US Department of Justice scrutiny of the agency, and a legislative investigation that now looks at what happened. attracted very little attention. Governor John Bel Edwards knew and knew when.

Facing the most serious charges from a state grand jury was Master Soldier Kory York, who in body-cam footage dragged Greene from ankle shackles and left the burly man facedown on the ground for more than nine minutes. York was charged with negligent murder and 10 counts of misconduct.

Others, including a Union Parish deputy sheriff and three other soldiers, were charged with misconduct and obstruction of justice.

“We’re all excited about the indictments, but are they really going to pay for it?” said Mona Hardin, Greene’s mother, who has been putting pressure on state and federal investigators for more than three years and vowing not to bury the cremated remains of her “Ronnie” until justice is served. “As happy as we are, we want something to last.”

Union Parish District Attorney John Belton has issued arrest warrants for all five suspects.

Belton has long delayed pursuing the state charges at the request of the US Department of Justice, which is conducting a separate criminal investigation. But as the years went by, and federal prosecutors increasingly doubted whether officers could prove they acted “intentionally”—a key component of the civil rights charges they consider—they gave Belton approval to convene the state grand jury this spring.

The panel reviewed detailed evidence and testimonies from the last month regarding the soldiers’ use of force and their decision to abandon the handcuffed Greene for a few minutes before rendering assistance. And for the first time in the case, a medical professional considered Greene’s death a murder.

The federal grand jury investigation, which expanded last year to examine whether state police obstructed justice to protect soldiers, is still open, and prosecutors are holding back on when the panel can rule on charges.

Greene’s death on May 10, 2019 was kept secret from the beginning when authorities told grieving relatives that 49-year-old Greene died in a car crash near Monroe at the end of a speedy chase – an account questioned by both. his family and even an emergency room doctor who noticed Greene’s battered body. Still, a forensic report listed Greene’s cause of death as a motor vehicle accident, a state police accident report did not include any mention of soldiers using force, and it would take 462 days for state police to launch an internal investigation.

Meanwhile, the body camera video remained so secret that he was withheld from Greene’s initial autopsy, and officials from Edwards denied repeated requests for his release, citing ongoing investigations.

But last year, the AP obtained and published footage that showed what really happened: Soldiers rushed into Greene’s car, stunned him repeatedly, punched him in the head, dragged him from ankle shackles, and left him facedown on the floor for more than nine years. minute. From time to time, Greene pleaded for mercy and said, “I am your brother! I am scared! I am scared!”

At one point, a soldier orders Greene “to lie on his stomach as I told you”! – a tactic of using force that experts have criticized as dangerous and likely to have restricted his breathing. A deputy sheriff said, “Yeah, yeah, that — it hurts, didn’t it?”

Fallout brought federal scrutiny, not just to the soldiers, but to whether top executives obstructed justice to protect them.

Investigators focused on a meeting where detectives said they were pressured by state police commanders to pressure them into arresting Greene on body camera video of a soldier who shot Greene in the head on a body-cam video and later bragged about “I beat the living man.” her.” That soldier, Chris Hollingsworth, was considered the most guilty of the half-dozen cops involved, but died in a high-speed, single-vehicle accident in 2020. Greene’s arrest.

The AP later found that Greene’s arrest was among at least a dozen cases in the past decade where state police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence that mostly Black men had been beaten, deflected the charge and thwarted efforts to root out the abuse. Dozens of current and former soldiers said the beatings were sanctioned by a culture of impunity, nepotism, and in some cases racism.

Such reports were cited by the U.S. Department of Justice as they launched an extensive civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police this year;

The scrutiny also turned to the actions of the Democratic governor, who oversees state police.

A legislature this year launched an “all-level” investigation into the state’s handling of the Greene case, after the AP reported to Edwards that it was informed within hours that the soldiers who arrested Greene were engaged in a “fierce, long struggle.” He remained silent for two years as the police continued to put forward the car accident theory.

Another AP report states that Edwards privately watched a key body-cam video of Greene’s fatal arrest six months before state prosecutors said they knew of it, and that neither the governor, his staff, nor state police were able to get the footage into Greene’s hands. revealed that he did not act immediately. those who have the authority to file a criminal complaint.

Edwards has repeatedly said he did nothing to influence or hinder the Greene investigation, and called the soldiers’ actions both criminal and racist. But he has yet to testify before the legislature, saying last month that he couldn’t attend a hearing instead of attending a groundbreaking ceremony for an infrastructure project.

“The governor was consistent in his public statements of his intention to cooperate,” a spokesperson told the AP. “That hasn’t changed.”

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