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'I can't keep ignoring the issue:' Texts between governor, others amid Ronald Greene cover-up at State Police

4 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Monday, February 07 2022 Feb 7, 2022 February 07, 2022 6:39 PM February 07, 2022 in The Investigative Unit
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- A trove of text messages and emails obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit through a public records request show key members of Governor John Bel Edwards' staff, lawmakers and those at the top of Louisiana State Police were all talking among themselves about the Ronald Greene case as WBRZ stories played on television weekly throughout 2021.

Some messages indicated a need to improve the image of State Police amid growing controversy over how the agency handled Greene's death years earlier. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page to read text messages from people involved in this story.

Watch WBRZ News 2 at 6:00 streaming live here

The emails are thousands of pages long and show the massive force of the general public writing to the governor expressing outrage that no one had been arrested tied to the Greene case.

Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards held a news conference categorically denying having any involvement in the investigation and lack of criminal charges thus far.

Ronald Greene, a Black motorist in Monroe led State Police on a high-speed chase in May of 2019. After a minor crash, he stopped and exited his car; He was alive and apologizing. Body camera footage showed state troopers from Troop F beating and attacking Greene until he went limp. Greene eventually died.  In the hours after Greene's death, Governor John Bel Edwards was briefed about the case in messages first obtained and reported by the Associated Press.

The governor was notified of a "violent, lengthy" struggle that eventually killed Greene. 

One particular text exchange involves State Police Colonel Lamar Davis texting Governor John Bel Edwards about a WBRZ Investigative Unit story involving the highest-ranking trooper on scene the night Greene was killed receiving no discipline for lying about his body camera videos. The lie is well documented in investigating reports from the trooper tasked with looking into Greene's death.

In a long text, Davis wrote State Police knew of "three different and two former LSP employees involved in the investigation..." the text goes on to tell the governor that State Police "attempted to interview both of the former employees... both declined."  The investigation ended: The text message added, "investigators lacked sufficient evidence... and no discipline was delivered."

The text said the investigators in internal affairs could not sustain the findings that Clary lied. To this day, he's received no discipline.

The investigating trooper, Albert Paxton, recently resigned.  He said he was tired of being pressured into spinning what happened to Greene and how his bosses wanted Greene's death framed.

"I won't participate in the cover-up, I won't hide evidence, and I won't lie," Paxton told Louisiana state lawmakers just before Christmas.

FORMER LAWMAKER TEXTS GOVERNOR'S STAFF ATTORNEYS

In one text exchange, then-State Representative Ted James sent Governor John Bel Edwards' lawyers a text message as the case continued to draw media attention.

James wrote: "I can't keep ignoring the issue because I like the governor," James wrote. "This isn't my last political office... many members of the LLBC (Legislative Black Caucus) are equally sick and tired of being criticized in their districts...waiting on the feds is no longer an option in my opinion."

James recently resigned his post to take a federal appointment with the Biden administration.

LT. COLONEL ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN CASE

The second-in-command at Louisiana State Police, Lt. Colonel Doug Cain, was also actively involved in sending text messages to members of the governor's staff tied to the Greene case. In many situations, Cain would ask if they were "free for a quick call?"

In one instance, State Representative Edmond Jordan did an interview with the WBRZ Investigative Unit criticizing the way State Police had handled the situation. Within two days, Cain got into contact with Jordan. He texted the Governor's Office about it.

Cain wrote: "Reached out to Edmond Jordan... working to earn his trust and confidence... Doug."

The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained all of investigating Trooper Albert Paxton's case notes last month. Those notes show Cain was actively involved in the cover-up and dismissing Paxton's concerns.  The notes also showed Cain was leaking information to his former boss, Kevin Reeves, who quit amid mounting controversies.

COLONEL TEXTS GOVERNOR ABOUT CARL CAVALIER

The State Police whistleblower, Carl Cavalier, who brought the investigative notes to the WBRZ Investigative Unit last year was ultimately fired.

Following his story being seen on WBRZ, Colonel Lamar Davis texted Governor John Bel Edwards: "Governor Edwards, Chris Nakamoto is reporting that he interviewed Trooper Carl Cavalier. We are confirming the validity of the information being reported...I will schedule a meeting to further discuss."

Cavalier was fired by Louisiana State Police last week citing the WBRZ Investigative Unit report. Cavalier appealed his termination the following day.

"The message it sends is you can kill somebody... commit horrific acts... what the governor calls criminal acts... nothing will happen to you," Cavalier's lawyer, Jill Craft, said. "But the guy who says the emperor has no clothes... you're fired."

WBRZ is still combing through the thousands of emails that we received.

Read all the text messages:

Text messages on Gov. John Bel Edwards' phone 

Text messages on Matthew Block's phone 1 - Governor's lawyer

Text messages on Matthew Block's phone 2 - Governor's lawyer

Text messages on Matthew Block's phone 3 - Governor's lawyer

Text messages on Christina Stephens' phone 1 - Spokesperson 

Text messages on Christina Stephens' phone 2 - Spokesperson 

Text messages on Christina Stephens' phone 3 - Spokesperson 

Text messages on Shauna Sanford's phone - Spokesperson 

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