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Louisiana trooper says firing is retaliation for speaking out on Black man's death after arrest

Carl Cavalier vowed to fight his potential termination amid his criticism of Louisiana State Police's handling of the 2019 death of Ronald Greene.

A state trooper in Louisiana who publicly criticized his department’s role in a violent 2019 traffic stop of a Black man who died vowed Friday to fight for his job after being notified of his pending termination.

Carl Cavalier, 33, who has been with Louisiana State Police since 2014, was quoted by a local TV outlet this summer as saying the department was involved in a coverup of the death of Ronald Greene. Cavalier, who is Black, also called troopers who arrested Greene “murderers” during another interview with a news outlet.

Cavalier said he’s being retaliated against for those comments and for writing a fictional book under a pseudonym about the experience of being a Black police officer.

“I swore and took an oath to do exactly what I’m doing,” said Cavalier, who considers himself a whistleblower. “I’m going to pursue my job with everything in me. If the justice system works like it’s supposed to, if the appeals process works how it’s supposed to, I believe I’ll have my job back.”

Louisiana State trooper Carl Cavalier
Louisiana State trooper Carl Cavalier.Courtesy Carl Cavalier

Cavalier said he’s been on paid leave since August. He shared a letter with NBC News dated Oct. 8, signed by Louisiana State Police Superintendent Lamar A. Davis, notifying him of his potential termination within 45 days.

The letter cited violations for public statements, loyalty to the department, dissemination of information, seeking publicity and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

Cavalier said he feels betrayed by his department.

“We all have a duty and a role to try and fix the issues. To try to be a solution to the problems we are facing, instead of just enabling it and allowing it to be,” he said.

Cavalier also filed a lawsuit last month alleging his supervisors discriminated against him, he said.

A state police spokeswoman said Friday in a statement: “Trooper Cavalier received the decision of the appointing authority to move forward with termination based on an administrative investigation that revealed he violated several departmental policies. It should be noted that our disciplinary administrative process is not finalized and Cavalier remains an employee at this time.”

The agency declined to comment on Cavalier’s lawsuit.

Greene, 49, was arrested by troopers with the state police May 10, 2019, after a high-speed chase near Monroe, in which his vehicle topped 100 mph. State police released videos a year later, but only after the Associated Press publicized bodycam footage that showed Greene being stunned, punched, dragged and left without medical assistance for about nine minutes.

Image: This image from video from Louisiana state police state trooper Dakota DeMoss' body-worn camera, shows troopers holding up Ronald Greene before paramedics arrived on May 10, 2019, outside of Monroe, La.
This image from video from the body camera of a Louisiana state police state trooper shows troopers holding up Ronald Greene before paramedics arrived on May 10, 2019, outside of Monroe, La.Louisiana State Police via AP

Cavalier told WBRZ in late June: “We still have murderers, in my eyes, on the job. Guys who received a slap on the wrist for their roles in the Ronald Greene incident are unpunished... patrolling the streets and left on the job."

Cavalier told WWLTV in August about his feelings after learning of videos showing Greene’s arrest. “I guess it created like a shock to me, created like a level of disappointment that I'm still recovering from now. The fact that these guys are actively covering up a murder,” Cavalier said.

Eugene Collins, president of the NAACP Baton Rouge branch, said the way the state police are handling Cavalier’s case should be reconsidered and is worsening their relationship with the community.

“He tried to provide transparency that he felt the agency wasn’t giving,” Collins said. “This guy stood up for troopers and what’s right. This sends us steps back.”

Davis released nine body-and dash-camera videos of Greene’s arrest in late May. 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 that Greene died on impact after crashing into a tree.

The FBI opened a 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.

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 was fired on June 4, state police said. Trooper Kory York served a 50-hour suspension, according to state police.

Numbers for DeMoss and York could not immediately be found Friday night. Attorneys listed as representing them in a federal civil lawsuit did not immediately return requests for comment on their behalf.

Greene’s autopsy identified his cause of death as “cocaine agitated delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint.”

Cavalier said seeing images of troopers involved in Greene’s arrest makes his “stomach churn.”

“Ronald Greene could have been me. Ronald Greene’s mother could have been my mother,” Cavalier said. “This is not the oath that I swore to uphold, to watch my colleagues beat Black men.”