State police refuse to release video from deadly arrest despite it already being leaked out
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana State Police is refusing to release body camera footage from the night troopers beat a man as they attempted to stop him for an unspecified traffic violation.
Ronald Greene died May 10, 2019, but an administrative investigation was not opened until over a year and a half later. Body camera footage obtained by the Associated Press shows the deadly encounter. Greene was tased, hit with open handcuffs, pulled by his ankles while face-down, and stepped on.
"You can see why they tried to cover it up," said Ron Haley, attorney for the Greene family. "You can see why they didn't want the audio and video released to the public. It's damaging to them and their credibility."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit requested body camera footage back in September 2020. Despite the video already leaking, LSP said it still won't release the video, citing a pending investigation.
"The investigation into the death of Ronald Greene remains under review by federal and state authorities. The premature public release of investigative files and video evidence in this case is not authorized and was not obtained through official sources. LSP is confident in the judicial system and fair review of this incident and continues to offer our full cooperation. Unauthorized release of evidence undermines the investigative process and compromises the fair and impartial outcome for the Greene family, LSP employees, and the community," an LSP spokesperson said Wednesday.
Haley said body camera footage is impartial.
"It's offensive for anyone to say that releasing body camera footage will somehow muddy the waters and create an impartial situation," Haley said. "The purpose of body cameras are to take away any impartiality or gray area and see the truth."
Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who participated in the arrest, died in a single-vehicle crash hours after he was served termination papers last fall. Audio of Hollingsworth surfaced last year and shed light on how Greene died.
"I beat the ever living f*** out of him," Hollingsworth said in that recording. "Choked him and everything else to get him under control. We finally got him in handcuffs when a third man got there. The son of b**** was still fighting and still wrestling with him trying to hold him down. He was spitting blood everywhere and all of a sudden he went limp."
Haley said the Greene family still wants answers two years after his death.
"The truth coming out is what they've always wanted, and this is a very big step towards the truth," Haley said.
The NAACP ACLU of Louisiana, VOTE, Anti-Defamation League South Central Region, Urban League of Louisiana, and VERA Institute for Justice issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the release of the bodycam footage:
“Today, we saw limited video footage of Louisiana State Police officers brutally assaulting Ronald Greene and failing to render aid once he was under their control. It's apparent that Mr. Greene died from his wounds and not the fictitious car accident reported by these officers to cover up his death in 2019.
The statement issued by the Louisiana State Police exacerbates the distrust that this gruesome incident has engendered within the community. Mr. Greene’s death did not happen in a vacuum. There have been recent, deeply troubling incidents involving excessive force and racism by the State Police directed at people of color.
There has been no public transparency since Mr. Greene’s death 474 days ago and no relief to the heartbreak experienced by his family. Yet the State Police’s statement is only concerned about the unauthorized release of the appalling video, and not its disturbing content. This apathetic response, and the apparent continuing cover-up of this incident demonstrates why the State Police should not be responsible for investigating how Mr. Greene died, and calls into question whether systemic racism has inappropriately influenced the agency’s assessment and reporting on similar incidents across the state over many years.
While we await the results of the FBI’s ongoing investigation, we call on the Louisiana State Police leadership to release all videos of this incident in their possession and urge Governor Edwards to implement independent oversight of the agency as a whole.”