Ronald Greene memorial
Demonstrators stand in front of the governor's mansion after a march from the state Capitol in Baton Rouge, La., protesting the death of Ronald Greene, who died in the custody of Louisiana State Police in 2019. (Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock)

Federal Investigators Probe Potential Cover-Up of Ronald Greene’s Death 2 Years After He Died Mysteriously in Police Custody

Two years after her son died tragically at the hands of police officers, a mom in Louisiana is still demanding answers and justice.

Jim Mustian of the Associated Press reported that “Ronald Greene’s mother chastised Louisiana lawmakers on Monday, Dec. 13, for not acting quickly enough to hold state troopers accountable for her son’s deadly 2019 arrest, saying the Black motorist’s death at the end of a high-speed chase was a ‘murder’ that’s been covered up, sugarcoated and mired in bureaucracy.”

In a statement, Mona Hardin said, “I’m so damn mad at the fact that I’m talking to people who have it in their power to make things happen. I’ve been wandering around in a cloud of confusion, just wondering: What does it take for the state of Louisiana to recognize the murder of a man? What does it take to get answers?”

More than two years after Greene’s death, federal and state prosecutors are just now beginning to investigate and potentially seek criminal charges in the troubling case.

According to Mustian, “troopers initially blamed Greene’s death on a car crash on a rural roadside outside Monroe. But long-withheld body-camera video obtained and published by AP in May [2021] instead showed white troopers punching, stunning and dragging Greene as he pleaded for mercy and repeatedly wailed, ‘I’m scared!’”

While Greene’s case remained dormant, a new federal civil rights probe has brought it back to light. In the developing investigation, officials are looking into not just Greene’s story but the beatings of several other Black motorists at the hands of state police — and whether police leadership broke the law in helping to cover up these violent and deadly incidents to protect certain officers. 

Mustian reported that “Greene’s death was among at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which an AP investigation found state troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct.”

“All the dots are connected. Ronnie’s not the first. Ronnie’s not the last,” Hardin told the Senate Select Committee on State Police Oversight. “Why do we have to sugarcoat the murder of a man just to get people off the hook?”

Although Louisiana State police commanders have admitted they instituted several direct policy changes following Greene’s death, a number of questions about his arresting officers’ behavior — and how Greene died after he was already in police custody — remain under serious investigation.

Lawyers for state troopers Kory York and John Clary, both of whom were involved in the arrest of Greene and the potential cover-up of his death, even refused to attend the Senate hearing on the matter, drawing the ire of many on the investigation panel.

“Clary, the ranking officer at the scene of Greene’s arrest, withheld a critical 30-minute body camera video of the in-custody death for more than two years, according to state police records obtained by AP,” Mustian said. “[York] can be seen on video dragging Greene by his ankle shackles and leaving the heavyset 49-year-old face down with his hands and feet restrained for more than nine minutes.”

State Sen. Cleo Fields, a member of the Select Committee, has promised justice in the case, calling the footage of Greene’s arrest “disturbing” and “more than he could stomach” watching.

“The state police failed, and this, in my view, was a cover-up,” he told AP. “We need to not only offer an apology, but we need to fix this. No mother should ever go through this in the future.”

 

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