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Text messages show communication between governor's staffers and prosecutors in Ronald Greene case

2 years 4 months 1 week ago Tuesday, February 08 2022 Feb 8, 2022 February 08, 2022 3:28 PM February 08, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Staff for Governor John Bel Edwards were in constant communication with people tied to the investigation into the death of Ronald Greene in May 2019.

Text messages obtained through a public records request by the WBRZ Investigative Unit showed the governor's lawyers, state and federal prosecutors messaged often as the case was scrutinized amid media reports of a State Police cover-up.

Read all the text messages obtained by WBRZ - scroll to the links at the bottom of the page.

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WBRZ and News 2 Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto revealed elements of the cover-up for months.

Greene died after a high-speed chase in the Monroe area.  His family was told he died in a crash, which was eventually disproven, and troopers made attempts to hide body camera videos of the incident. An investigating detective even noted the highest-ranking trooper on scene the night Greene died lied about having body camera video.

Text messages obtained by WBRZ show former U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook was communicating often with the governor's executive counsel, Matthew Block.

"Calling about Ronald Greene," Van Hook wrote to Block in a message.

In another message, Van Hook wrote to the governor's lawyer, "Senator Katrina Jackson keeps calling and I want to get some clarification about what you told her before I call her back."

Block was also in constant communication with John Belton, the district attorney in Union Parish.

"Have a moment to talk," Block texted Belton.

At one point as things were unraveling, the governor's office even offered to send a helicopter to pick up Belton to meet with the Greene family in Baton Rouge. Sources confirmed to the WBRZ Investigative Unit, Belton used the helicopter offered by the governor's office.

Another text appears to show Belton was keeping the governor's office abreast of meetings.

"Greene family and their attorneys would like to meet with me Thursday," Belton wrote to Block. "If this causes issues with you, then I will reconsider. Out of respect, I wanted to make sure you knew about it."

Mona Hardin, Ronald Greene's mother, said she is tired of feeling like the state of Louisiana is using her family as political pawns.

"They had no problem lying," Hardin said. "No problem looking at me in my face and shaking my hands."

In the midst of Ronald Greene's death, more brutality emerged from Troop F, the branch of State Police where Greene died.

In more messages to the governor, a top lieutenant at State Police messaged the governor's attorney to keep the executive office informed,  Doug Cain messaged Block a lengthy note about other incidents involving troopers in the Monroe area.

Block respond: "Thanks, I showed to JBE."

When asked for a comment, the governor's office provided a long statement:

As we have repeatedly said, and as the Governor said last Tuesday, our only conversations with District Attorney Belton and the US Attorney's office were to coordinate to make sure the family and members of the Black Caucus could see the videos, which we were told not to share publicly, and to get the US Attorney's office to meet with the family and legislators. These texts are not at all inconsistent with what our office and the Governor has said, period. No one in our office interfered with a criminal investigation.

In regards to the text about Senator Jackson and Mr. Van Hook, Matthew Block was coordinating with the US Attorney's office so that the family members could get an update on the case from the U.S. Attorney. That is why he was in contact with Mr. Van Hook.

Since you're focusing on DA Belton, I hope you will also report what DA Belton told the Ruston Leader last week -- "I have not received a call from him or anyone from his office trying to convince me not to prosecute." Mr. Van Hook has made similar comments publicly as well.

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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