Black Caucus requests full investigation into Louisiana State Police
BATON ROUGE- In the rotunda of the State Capitol Tuesday, members from the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus gathered to discuss a request to have the United States Department of Justice investigate Louisiana State Police.
It comes after numerous stories filed by the WBRZ Investigative Unit that show cover-ups at the agency tied to Ronald Greene's death in police custody two years ago. Initially, State Police told the family Greene died in a crash. But, body camera footage showed Greene alive at the time he exited his car.
"Through countless conversations we've heard whether it be the law, the state police commission rules, bars certain people from being called into question and certain documents and discipline being reviewed," Chairman of the Black Caucus State Representative Ted James said. "We don't have the authority to do it, but we know the federal government has the authority to do it."
The letter sent to the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland specifically addresses stories first published by the WBRZ Investigative Unit including the beating death of Ronald Greene. Aaron Bowman is also referenced in the letter. He survived.
The letter references emails from State Police's top attorney trying to divert blame from the agency and going along with the idea that Greene died in a crash more than a year and a half after the case came to light.
"To date, Louisiana State Police has done nothing about the death of Ronald Greene," the letter reads. "In fact, recently demoted attorney Faye Morrison is currently under investigation for her attempts to divert the incident away from Louisiana State Police and completely cover up the event. Emails from Faye Morrison document police officials discussing options to spin liability for the death of Ronald Greene. Other emails even show Morrison suggesting that guilty pleas for resisting arrest were essential to deter future suspects from filing excessive force complaints."
Last week, the WBRZ Investigative Unit published case notes from the Ronald Greene investigation. Trooper Albert Paxton noted that he wanted some of his colleagues arrested but got pushback from State Police top brass.
"There are consistent violations that we see criminally and folks need to be arrested," James said. "That's one of the reasons we want the feds to come in because we realize there are some people that are no longer state troopers but we are still paying their retirement. Taxpayers of this great state deserve to know what happened."
Those notes were exposed in a rare sit down interview with State Trooper Carl Cavalier who risked it all so the public could hear the truth.
"Former Colonel Kevin Reeves, he needs to go to jail," Cavalier said. "Anyone that is part of the cover-up, and anyone on the scene that failed to act or act inappropriately for sure."
"I want to personally thank some of those troopers who we know, Albert Paxton who came out, Carl Cavalier," James said. "When we all started these conversations about police reform, no one hates a bad officer more than a good officer."
The Black Caucus said they are reaching out to a higher authority in Washington, because they don't have confidence in the local FBI field offices here.
"If we were satisfied, we wouldn't be here today," James said.
This afternoon, Governor John Bel Edwards Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Christina Stephens issued the following statement:
The Governor enjoys a strong working relationship with members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and was aware of their planned request in advance. He also believes that they have reasonable concerns that need to be addressed. We all agree that all law enforcement officers, including Louisiana State Police troopers, should act professionally, respectfully and in accordance with their sworn duty to protect all Louisianans regardless of their race or background. If officers violate this oath and the public's trust, they should be held responsible and face the appropriate consequences for their action or inaction. For our officers, we believe this important work can be accomplished with strong leadership at the Louisiana State Police.
As the Governor has said, he is fully supportive of Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis, who became the head of LSP last October. His charge to Col. Davis was not just to lead the agency, but also to transform it, and that monumental work has already started through internal reviews and expanded training.
If you would like to read the full letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, click here.
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