Relatives of Ronald Greene, a Black man who died two years ago after an arrest in which he was stunned, punched and dragged by Louisiana state troopers, convened on the state Capitol on Thursday calling for charges to be filed against the arresting officers.
“It’s so disrespectful to the state of Louisiana to continue this, to run this through hoping that eventually it will lose traction for some reason or another, or it will just die away. Which is not going to happen because this is for my son,” his mother, Mona Hardin, said in Baton Rouge.
Hardin has called her son's death a murder.
Body-camera footage of Greene’s arrest, first obtained and made public by the Associated Press earlier this month, shows him being stunned, punched, dragged and left without medical assistance for about nine minutes.
Greene, 49, was arrested by troopers with the Louisiana State Police on May 10, 2019, after a high-speed chase in which his vehicle topped 100 mph.
Late last week, Louisiana State Police Supt. Lamar A. Davis publicly released nine body- and dash-camera videos of Green’s arrest outside Monroe, Louisiana.
State police initially argued the troopers’ use of force was justified — “awful but lawful,” as ranking officials described it — and did not open an administrative investigation until 474 days after Greene’s death.
Troopers initially told the family Greene died on impact after crashing into a tree. Later last year, they released a one-page statement stating that Greene struggled with troopers on the way to the hospital.
The FBI has an ongoing criminal investigation into the arrest and is working with prosecutors with the Western District of Louisiana and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
Activists and civil rights leaders on Thursday called for the six troopers involved in the arrest to face charges. Activists said they have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the full force of the Department of Justice to be used in the investigation into Greene’s arrest.
Activists said Greene’s arrest and its aftermath amounted to a coverup with the Louisiana State Police that should also be investigated.
“We’re shocked, outraged, repulsed, offended by the torture and death of a man. …That torture was caused by Louisiana State Troopers sworn to uphold the law and Constitution who willfully, recklessly and intentionally violated Mr. Greene’s rights,” said Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League. “We are calling for the Louisiana State Police to immediately dismiss the officers involved in this incident and to arrest each of them and charge them with appropriate crimes.”
Greene’s family said they were told by officials Thursday that prosecutors intend to bring the case before a grand jury, but the family was not provided details about the timing.
When asked for a response to the calls to immediately fire and arrest the troopers who arrested Greene, a spokesman with state police on Thursday said the case is still under review by federal and state authorities.
“Troopers involved in the Greene incident have already received internal discipline while awaiting the results of the federal review," the agency said in a statement. "LSP is confident in the judicial system and fair review of this incident and continues to offer our full cooperation."
Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who was involved in Greene’s arrest, died in a single-vehicle highway crash shortly after he learned he would be fired for his role. Trooper Dakota DeMoss has been notified of the department’s intent to terminate him, state police officials have said. He remains on leave pending the conclusion of disciplinary hearings related to a separate use of force investigation, officials said. Trooper Kory York served a 50-hour suspension, according to state police.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office said he has twice met with Greene’s mother.
“I pledged to Ms. Mona Hardin that Louisiana State Police is cooperating fully with the Union Parish District Attorney and the United States Department of Justice in their investigations and that under the leadership of a new state police superintendent, change has already started at the agency,” Edwards said in a statement. “The officers seen on the body cam footage of Mr. Greene’s arrest do not represent what we aspire to in the state of Louisiana. Their actions were deeply unprofessional and incredibly disturbing. I am disappointed in them and in any officer who stood by and did not intervene during the arrest.”
Greene’s autopsy identified his cause of death as “cocaine agitated delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint,” according to the AP.