The 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene resulted in his death, which authorities initially attributed to a car accident. However, the long-suppressed body-camera video showed white officers beating, stunning, and dragging the Black motorist as he screamed, “I’m scared!”
Five Louisiana law enforcement officers were charged Thursday with state crimes ranging from negligent homicide to malfeasance in the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene.
These are the first charges of any kind related to Greene’s brutal death on a roadside in rural northeast Louisiana.
Prior to the Associated Press investigation that revealed a cover-up and prompted scrutiny of top Louisiana State Police brass, a thorough review of the agency by the U.S. Justice Department, and a legislative investigation into what Governor John Bel Edwards knew and when he knew it, the case received little attention.
We’re all anticipating the indictments, but will they be held accountable? said Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, who has been putting pressure on state and federal investigators for more than three years and has promised not to bury Greene’s cremated remains until she receives justice. Even though we are content, we desire something to endure.
Master Trooper Kory York, who was facing the most serious charges from a state grand jury, was shown on body camera footage dragging Heavyset Man Greene by his ankle shackles, forcing him to the ground with his foot, and keeping him there for more than nine minutes.
5 Louisiana state troopers have been charged with negligent homicide in the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene. Cops initially blamed a car crash before long suppressed body-camera video showed white cops beating, stunning & dragging the Black motorist. https://t.co/E9NQ2959Ek
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) December 16, 2022
Experts in the use of force suggest that these actions may have put Greene’s breathing in jeopardy, and the state police’s own force instructor referred to the troopers’ acts as “torture and murder.” York was accused of 10 charges of official misconduct in addition to negligent homicide.
A trooper who denied having body camera footage, another who exaggerated Greene’s resistance, a regional state police commander who investigators claim pressured them not to make an arrest in the case, and a Union Parish sheriff’s deputy heard taunting Greene with the words “s—- hurts, doesn’t it” were among the others who faced various counts of misbehavior and obstruction.
Col. Lamar Davis, the state police chief, stated following the indictments that “these activities are reprehensible and have no place in professional public safety services,” adding that his organization has recently made adjustments targeted at “rebuilding of trust within the communities we serve.”
In submitting arrest warrants for all five of the cops, Union Parish District Attorney John Belton praised the racially diverse grand jury for hearing the testimony and declared that the people had spoken.
At the request of the US Justice Department, which is conducting a separate criminal investigation, Belton had long postponed filing state charges. Federal prosecutors gave Belton the go-ahead this spring to call a state grand jury, but as time went on and they grew less certain that they could demonstrate the officers acted “willfully”—a crucial element of the civil rights charges they’ve been considering—they became increasingly wary.
Since last month, that panel has carefully studied the testimony and facts surrounding the troopers’ use of force as well as their choice to wait several minutes to administer help to the handcuffed Greene.
Additionally, a medical expert declared Greene’s death to be a homicide for the first time in the case.
The federal grand jury inquiry, which was enlarged last year to look into whether state police brass obstructed justice to shield the troopers, is still ongoing, and the government has been mum about when the panel might decide to file charges.
Greene passed away on May 10, 2019, but his passing was shrouded in secrecy from the moment authorities informed his bereaved family that he had died in a car crash after a high-speed chase near Monroe. However, both his family and even the emergency room doctor who saw Greene’s battered body questioned this claim.
Although a state police crash report omitted any mention of troopers employing force, a coroner’s report still listed Greene’s cause of death as a motor vehicle accident, and 462 days passed before state police launched an internal investigation.
The body-camera video was kept so secret throughout that it was not included in Greene’s initial autopsy. Officials from Edwards on down have also repeatedly refused attempts to make it public, citing ongoing investigations.
However, the film was then recovered and made public by the AP last year, revealing what actually occurred: Greene was repeatedly knocked out by troopers surrounding his car, punched in the head, dragged by the shackles, and left prone on the ground for more than nine minutes. Greene would occasionally be heard imploring for forgiveness and screaming, “I’m your brother! I’m afraid! I’m terrified!
York tells Greene to “lie on your f——— belly as I instructed you to” at one point. Christopher Harpin, a deputy with the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office, is heard mockingly saying, “Yeah, yeah, that s—- hurts, doesn’t it?”
If the accusations aren’t initially dropped, York and Harpin’s attorneys stated that both of their clients anticipate being proven not guilty at trial. Former trooper Dakota DeMoss, whose body camera recorded a large portion of the arrest, declined to comment when contacted by phone, stating, “You guys always get it wrong.”
An inquiry for a remark made in the courtroom went unanswered by the lawyer representing Lt. John Clary. John Peters, a former state police captain, declined to comment.
The fallout prompted a federal investigation into whether senior brass obstructed justice to protect the troopers as well as the soldiers themselves.
The focus of the investigation has been a meeting where investigators claim state police leaders encouraged them to delay the arrest of a trooper who was captured on body camera footage hitting Greene in the head and boasting, “I beat the ever-living f—- out of him.”
The trooper in question, Chris Hollingsworth, was widely regarded as the most responsible of the half-dozen participating police, but he passed unexpectedly in a single-vehicle, high-speed accident in 2020, only hours after learning he would be dismissed for his part in Greene’s arrest.