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WATCH: Lawmakers grill State Police leaders over erased phone records

1 year 8 months 2 weeks ago Tuesday, March 22 2022 Mar 22, 2022 March 22, 2022 8:45 AM March 22, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The so-called "sanitization" of government-issued phones belonging to top Louisiana State Police leaders will take center stage as lawmakers' question current and former agency brass about a Black man's death in police custody.

The bi-partisan legislative committee formed to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ronald Greene's death will hold its next meeting at the State Capitol Tuesday.

Watch coverage live here

Greene's death has been the subject of numerous WBRZ Investigative Unit reports. He was handcuffed, beaten and tased by troopers after a chase through the Monroe area back in 2019. It took two years for police video of the violent encounter to leak amid growing public outcry. 

Click here to see WBRZ's previous coverage of Ronald Greene's death

Last week's meeting was dominated by testimony from former State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeveswho was in charge of the agency at the time of Greene's deathand his aggressive questioning at the hands of state lawmakers. Reeves denied the existence of a cover-up but still claimed to have limited knowledge of several aspects of the internal investigation. 

Among those set to testify Tuesday is the current second-in-command at State Police, Doug Cain, who's been the focus of multiple investigative reports from Chris Nakamoto. 

Though department-issued phones are typically wiped when a trooper leaves the agency, records showed Cain's was scrubbed in February 2020 while offering no particular reason for the device to be sanitized. State Police said no back-up was kept of the data on Cain's phone at that time.

"It's a huge problem," Committee Chairman Tanner Magee said. "They were being sued civilly, there were criminal investigations going on. We have retention policies on the laws on the book, and here you are sanitizing phones. It seems very curious and weird."

Colonel Kevin Reeves, who was still the superintendent then, also turned in his work phone some time after Greene's death.

Reeves admitted to doing State Police business on his personal cell phone. Ironically, the back-up on the personal phone is gone too after that phone was "crushed."

"I do not believe the entire truth was given to the committee," Magee said. "I think a lot of the answers were plausible. I was happy he came and testified and talked freely without pleading the fifth. But I did not believe he provided the whole truth."

The month in which Cain turned in his phone was around the same time Trooper Albert Paxton, who was investigating the Greene arrest internally and kept extensive notes, brought the case file to the FBI.

Paxton, who abruptly retired this year, said he faced backlash internally because of his dogged investigation of the Greene arrest. He is also scheduled to testify at the capitol Tuesday. 

"I'm being investigated because I won't participate in the cover-up," Paxton told lawmakers in December. "I won't hide evidence and won't lie."

Others scheduled to appear at the legislative hearing include current Superintendent Lamar Davis and Trooper Carl Cavalier, who was fired after he publicly criticized State Police over the Greene investigation. 

Keep up with the meeting here:

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