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Lawmakers bothered with penalties for telling the truth during State Police hearings

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BATON ROUGE – An investigator with State Police tasked with looking into officer-involved shootings said there was only one instance in his career when a supervisor ignored suggestions an officer should be arrested, and it was the case involving State Police and the death of Ronald Greene.

Lawmakers have been holding a handful of hearings into State Police after two years of WBRZ Investigative Unit reports from Chris Nakamoto on Greene’s death and a government cover-up.

Lawmakers discussed State Police oversight Friday, and while they are not directly investigating Greene’s death, questioning shifted toward the incident.

Among those speaking before lawmakers Friday was Lt. Johnny Brown, the agency investigator.

When questioned by lawmakers, Brown said only once in his career has the agency not followed through on his suggestion to arrest a trooper.

State Senator Katrina Jackson, of Monroe, asked Brown when – and if – he ever made a recommendation for a colleague’s arrest and if it was ignored.

Brown said he's done so in the past, but "only once" did higher-ranking troopers not make an arrest. He added, “this… involved the Ronald Greene incident.”

Brown did not elaborate on whom he believed should be arrested, although WBRZ was first to report Brown’s colleagueAlbert Paxtonwrote in extensive notes that both men agreed trooper Chris Hollingsworth should be arrested.  Hollingsworth died as State Police were planning to fire him in September 2020.

Brown said he was also told not to meet with the district attorney as Monroe-area prosecutors started investigating Greene's death.  

Greene's death is now the focus of a federal investigation. 

Brown suggested procedural changes at State Police amid Nakamoto’s reports on how the agency attempted to hide or manipulate what happened to Greene.

Toward the end of Friday's hearing, Baton Rouge State Sen. Cleo Fields lambasted State Police for what he likened to punishments for telling the truth at capitol hearings.

"The thing that bothers me is every time someone come [sic] here and tries to tell the truth, every single timeand it really frustrates methey end up either leaving or retiring from State Police or they end up being fired. And that agitates me," Fields said. 

He told Brown: "You a good man [sic], a very honorable man. And every time you make a presentation, the counsel for State Police leans over to you and you do your very best to give us a good, honest answer. And I respect you for that. And... it shouldn't be that way. It just shouldn't be that way. Giving this committee the truth just shouldn't be that hard."

Brown is referencing WBRZ reports about the abrupt retirement of Paxton, who said he quit State Police after getting heat for keeping such detailed notes about the Greene case.

"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.

Brown echoed that statement Friday, telling lawmakers he too wouldn't commit a crime.

Also fired from State Police amid WBRZ reports was Carl Cavalier, the whistleblower featured in previous Nakamoto stories. 

Watch Fields' emotional statement here. 

Tuesday, a separate group of lawmakers tasked with looking into Greene’s death and Nakamoto’s reporting on the cover-up will meet for the first time.

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