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State trooper removed from prestigious football detail following WBRZ report

2 weeks 6 hours 47 minutes ago Friday, September 10 2021 Sep 10, 2021 September 10, 2021 7:57 AM September 10, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- Louisiana State Police removed Lt. John Clary from a prestigious detail escorting the Louisiana Tech football coach following a WBRZ Investigative Unit story that raised questions this week about how he managed to keep that plum assignment amid an ongoing federal investigation.

Louisiana Tech issued the following statement to the WBRZ Investigative Unit.

"The Louisiana State Police has removed Lt. John Clary from his detail with the LA Tech football team until any current investigation is completed.

The volunteer position – staffed by members of the LSP – is not paid, and Clary has been on the detail for at least nine years."

The Associated Press reported this year that Lt. Clary lied about the existence of his body camera footage when Ronald Greene died. Greene led troopers on a high-speed chase through the Monroe area. When his car finally came to a stop, he was alive and apologizing.

However, body camera footage showed Greene was beaten, tased and dragged by the ankles. Following his death that night, troopers claimed Greene died in a crash, and a concerted coverup began to hide video.

Following our story that showed Clary on national TV over the weekend, State Senator Cleo Fields penned a letter to Colonel Lamar Davis expressing his profound dismay over the situation.

"I just can't see how officers can do what has been done from what I know about the incident and be placed in a position of prestige, like escorting college football coaches," Senator Fields said.

Fields said he spoke with Colonel Lamar Davis and questioned why one of the whistleblowers, Carl Cavalier, is currently facing more discipline than the troopers involved in Greene's death.

"To have laws in place for officers to intervene was for this very purpose," Fields said. "Clary obviously was there on the scene. Obviously he had video. Obviously it was held for a long period of time. There has to be a reason for it, or it's obstruction of justice and someone needs to be held accountable."

State Trooper Carl Cavalier sat down with the WBRZ Investigative Unit and brought notes from one of the investigators in the Troop F area. Cavalier said he felt he had an obligation for the public to hear what was going on.

"I wouldn't be able to sleep peacefully at night knowing that I have knowledge of things being covered up," Cavalier said in an interview earlier this year. "A murder being covered up pretty much, if you ask me."

The notes Cavalier brought show one of the investigators, Albert Paxton, was stonewalled from doing his job.

"President Nixon said once if the crime doesn't get you, the coverup will," Fields said. "The worst thing we need to do is cover up a crime. We need to own up to the fact that a crime was committed. To tell a mother that her child was killed in a single-car accident is wrong in and of itself, but to then cover it up is unconscionable."

The Associated Press reported Thursday that nearly 67 percent of all of State Police's excessive force incidents in recent years involved African Americans.

This afternoon, State Police issued the following statement.

The professionalism, accountability, and proper treatment of our citizens by our DPS personnel is a non-negotiable requirement as we continue to provide public safety services across the state. Past policies and practices related to the handling of excessive force incidents and internal investigations have been completely revised with numerous reform measures put into place over the last 11 months. No instance of excessive force is acceptable and when the department learns of such misconduct, an immediate review is launched leading to administrative and/or potential criminal investigations. Over the last decade, Troopers have encountered over 5.7 million citizens through traffic stops, arrests, and public assists. During that same period, Troopers were involved in 2,174 Use of Force incidents approximately only 0.052% of the total interactions. The overwhelming majority of our DPS men and women represent the agency with pride as they provide professional service to our citizens. Those personnel that choose to act outside of legal requirements and departmental policies will be subject to a fair and thorough evaluation and internal review resulting in potential discipline or criminal charges.

Whereas transparency is a priority to this administration, ongoing criminal and civil litigation prevents the immediate release of videos and investigative details in many of these incidents. The premature release of evidence in these non-adjudicated cases could jeopardize the constitutionally protected legal rights of the accused individuals, influence future jury pools, and potentially prevent full accountability in these matters. At the appropriate time, all information will be available for release to the public.
Louisiana State Police will continue to revise and reform our operations, training, and administration. We remain committed to the reform process by continuing coordination and community engagement with the many diverse populations throughout our state.

Reform measures initiated since October of 2020:


Policies:
- Implemented a Duty to Intervene Policy
- Enhanced accountability in the Body Worn Camera Policy
- Expanded the Use of Force Policy, including a ban on chokeholds, a ban on the use of impact weapons to the head or neck area, and a mandate to carry a less-lethal option
- Updated the Pursuit Policy to outline the provision for ramming which is prohibited except where deadly force is authorized to save lives

Training:
- Mandated Implicit Bias Training for all personnel
- Developing a Duty to Intervene Training Program to supplement the policy
-Developing De-escalation Training

Operations:
- Developing a Force Investigative Unit for the investigation of DPS Officer-Involved Shootings, In-Custody Deaths, and other Use of Force events


Reporting:
- Worked with the POST Council to add supplemental information to the POST Employment Status Change Report for terminations and involuntary resignations
- Creating a standardized Early Identification System for consistent tracking purposes
Recruiting:
- Utilizing traditional and non-traditional recruiting methods to reach qualified applicants
- Continuing our efforts to expand diversity throughout our agency through recruiting initiatives
- Developing a peer-to-peer mentoring program to further develop our personnel
Mental Health:
- Continued promotion and expansion of the Trooper and Employee Assistance Program to support the mental health of our personnel and ensure operational readiness in the field
Accountability:
- Initiated administrative investigations regarding allegations of misconduct to ensure accountability immediately after learning of an incident
- Continuing to build and communicate expectations through vision and policy
- Enforcing standards equitably and fairly in order to improve performance and increase cohesion
- Continuing to prescribe discipline and accountability consistently, fairly, and equitably throughout the agency

Transparency:
- Communicating arrests of personnel internally and to the public
- Establishing a program designed to standardize the release of critical information as soon as possible (body worn camera and in-car camera footage).

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