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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Trooper involved in deadly 2019 encounter placed on leave more than a year later

6 days 5 hours 15 minutes ago Tuesday, September 15 2020 Sep 15, 2020 September 15, 2020 6:00 AM September 15, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A Louisiana state trooper was involved in an encounter that left a man dead last year, according to a federal lawsuit. He was placed on leave on Aug. 25, 2020, State Police said Friday.

The deadly encounter happened May 10, 2019, according to records the WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained through a public records request. Sources at Louisiana State Police (LSP) confirmed to WBRZ that Trooper Chris Hollingsworth was placed on leave two weeks ago for the May 2019 incident. State Police refused to answer questions about what prompted him to be placed on leave now.

A federal lawsuit spells out details of the alleged encounter between Ronald Greene and a handful of Louisiana state troopers in the Monroe area. The lawsuit states Greene was driving a car on US 80 in Monroe when a trooper attempted to initiate a traffic stop. Greene did not stop until his car crashed into a wooded area. When Greene exited the vehicle, the lawsuit says Greene began to apologize to the officers.

"Two officers pinned Greene down on the ground while he screamed, 'oh my god.' Greene was moaning, begging the officers to stop and repeatedly saying, 'I'm sorry,'" the lawsuit said.

Greene was tased at least three times according to the lawsuit and died on the way to the hospital.

"Police personnel told Greene's family that he had been killed in an auto accident," the lawsuit reads.

Through a public records request, the WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained the initial complaint written by State Police. It makes no mention that any use of force was used.

"We've spoken to people who have seen the video, and it's very difficult to watch," Attorney Lee Merritt said. "It reflects clear constitutional violations and policy violations."

The district attorney's office in Monroe told WBRZ it received the report from State Police. Based off of LSP's investigation they made a determination not to charge the troopers involved, but the case was turned over to the United States Department of Justice.

Attorney Ron Haley is also helping out with the case. He said it reeks of a cover-up by State Police.

"It takes them an extremely long time to come up with the same conclusion that they want to come up with," Haley said. "They will find any type of way to justify the behavior no matter how egregious it is."

With few answers from State Police, attorneys representing the Greene family are demanding justice.

"We find it troubling that this agency was able to investigate itself," Lee Merritt said. "Best practices are outside agencies are called in to do a thorough independent investigation. It has been our experience when law enforcement investigates themselves they often glean over important information and clear themselves of any wrongdoing."

State Police would not answer specific questions when asked about the allegations in the lawsuit.

Last week, the WBRZ Investigative Unit published results of a lengthy investigation into State Police that showed a cover-up at the highest levels. Trooper August McKay called a co-worker a "f****** n*****" and received no discipline. When we began asking questions, State Police claimed documents weren't public records- then intentionally withheld them out of his file when we went to review it. State Police even asked WBRZ not to air the story.

This week, lawmakers at the State Capitol grilled those at State Police about the screw-up. 

We requested an interview with Colonel Kevin Reeves about Greene's lawsuit, we have not heard back. He has not answered questions about either investigation.

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