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'Grossly disengaged': Lawmakers confront former State Police leader over Ronald Greene case
BATON ROUGE - A legislative committee established to investigate Ronald Greene's death in police custody—and the subsequent cover-up at State Police—questioned two of the agency's former leaders on Tuesday.
Among those testifying at the State Capitol Tuesday were former State Police superintendents Michael Edmonson and Kevin Reeves, who was in charge of the agency in 2019 when Ronald Greene died in police custody and resigned in 2020 amid several controversies at State Police.
The bipartisan committee questioned Reeves at length about the investigation. Reeves maintained there were no efforts to cover up Greene's death but claimed he was unfamiliar with several aspects of the internal investigation at State Police.
Greene, a Black man, died in May 2019 after leading troopers on a high-speed chase in the Monroe area. The agency initially told Greene's family he died from injuries he sustained in a crash, but body camera video showed he was alive and pleading with officers when they pulled him from his vehicle. The video, which wasn't seen by the public until it leaked two years later, showed troopers beating, tasing and dragging Greene by his legs.
Members of the committee grilled Reeves for hours Tuesday, asking him how much he knew about the internal investigation into Greene's death and apparent efforts to cover up what happened.
Reeves said the feds are not looking into his conduct. He said @LAStatePolice has never condoned use of force. Also said there was no intent to cover anything up. @WBRZ— Chris Nakamoto WBRZ (@ChrisNakamoto) March 15, 2022
At one point during the heated line of questioning, lawmakers asked Reeves' attorney to step away due to repeated interruptions.
Reeves lawyer Lewis Unglesby is being moved away from his client due to continued outbursts. @WBRZ pic.twitter.com/y1NQi24HXK— Chris Nakamoto WBRZ (@ChrisNakamoto) March 15, 2022
During the hearing, Reeves was asked about who ordered that top officials cell phones were wiped.
"When you say wiped, we say sanitized," Reeves said. "That does sound bad, but there was no malicious intent here."
Reeves also admitted to doing state business on his personal cell phone. Ironically, he said his personal phone was destroyed to, and there is no backup of that either.
"I cringed to sit in here constantly hearing you say 'I didn't read this or that.' It seems that you were grossly disengaged," Representative Jason Hughes told Reeves.
Greene's mother, Mona Hardin, spoke after lawmakers finished questioning Reeves, criticizing the former head of State Police for dodging questions about the cover-up.
"To say it did not happen is a lie. It's a black eye for the state of Louisiana," Hardin said. "I'm so glad you put this gentleman in his place."
Ongoing state and federal investigations will determine whether any of the troopers involved in Greene's arrest will face criminal charges.
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