New memo from State Police, more than two years after Ronald Greene died, says don't 'destroy' case files
BATON ROUGE – An ominous memo to State Police staff this week asked that any documents related to Ronald Greene be saved and, in an unusually straightforward note, not “destroyed.”
The memo outlines a legal hold of agency documents related to Greene and his death while in the custody of state troopers in May 2019. The memo was sent July 8, 2021, more than two years after Greene died and amid widespread scrutiny of how the agency handled the internal investigation into the situation.
WBRZ and Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto first reported last year about inconsistencies in how troopers reported Greene’s death after a police chase in Monroe. Despite minor damage to Greene’s vehicle, troopers reported Greene died from injuries as a result of the crash. Leaked body camera video of the state troopers involved showed Greene alive after the wreck, talking with troopers and eventually being beaten, tased and appearing lifeless.
State Police has faced mounting criticism after WBRZ reported top brass at the agency attempted to spin liability and even shared suggestions on how to avoid excessive force civil lawsuits in the aftermath of Greene’s death.
State Police only just issued the memo to save documents related to the situation.
All Department of Public Safety agencies were told “to preserve potential evidence by taking the appropriate steps to ensure that potential evidence relevant to the Ronald Greene matter is preserved and not deleted, damaged, or destroyed,” a memo from Gail Holland, the deputy general counsel, wrote to staff Thursday.
"The fact that they have to send out essentially, 'please do not obstruct justice and tamper with evidence,' before you put on a badge you should know not to obstruct justice, tamper with evidence," Attorney Ron Haley said."The fact that you need to send out an inter-office memo out as a reminder speaks volumes to the problems within State Police."
Haley is representing the family of Ronald Greene. He just returned from Orlando where they met with federal investigators. Any grand jury hearing tied to this case would most likely be held in Shreveport sometime in August.
"They assured us they are looking at bringing serious charges against anyone who had anything to do with the killing of Ronald Greene, obstructing justice and the cover-up," Haley said.
Holland sent the memo out and is handling legal matters after the agency’s head attorney, Faye Morrison, was removed from her position and reassigned after Nakamoto’s reporting on the controversial internal memos about shifting liability and notes on excessive force.
The memo sent this week sets up internal procedures for dealing with expected legal action against State Police and ongoing internal investigations and an outside federal inquiry into the state’s top police agency.
State Police issued the following statement:
Preservation orders are routinely disseminated as the department receives and prepares for pending litigation. A department wide notification was sent to ensure that all personnel are aware and not just those immediately involved in the investigation. The department is simply taking steps to ensure documents are not impacted by retention schedules.
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