'All levels' probe to be launched in death of Ronald Greene
Louisiana's top GOP lawmaker said "no cover-up will be tolerated" in connection with the fatal arrest of Ronald Greene in 2019.
Louisiana's top Republican lawmaker announced Thursday the launch of a bipartisan legislative probe into the fatal 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene that will look into the state's response at "all levels", from troopers to the governor.
Rep. House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said the investigation was launched in response to an AP report last month that showed Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards was informed within hours that troopers arresting Greene engaged in a "violent, lengthy struggle," but remained silent for two years as the victim's family was told by police and official reports that Greene died in a crash after a high-speed chase.
In a statement, Schexnayder said the events raised "serious questions" about what officials knew, adding that “the actions taken that night and the cryptic decisions and statements made every step of the way since then have eroded public trust.”
Edwards did not speak of the incident publicly until AP released never-before-seen footage of a body camera showing white troopers jolting Greene with stun guns, punching him, and dragging him by his ankles as he screamed, "I'm your brother! I'm scared! I'm scared!"
The Governor claimed he was unaware of the abuse Greene suffered until September 2020 and did not publicly speak of the incident due to an ongoing federal civil rights investigation.
Edwards' press conference was the first time he called the troopers engaged in Greene's detention "racist", and denied impeding or delaying justice. “The implication that I knew more and tried to cover it up is simply and categorically false,” he said.
When asked about a possible congressional inquiry at the news conference, Edwards responded by saying, “I can’t tell you that I welcome an investigation that is an absolute witch hunt with no basis in fact. Where would that stop?”
Edwards will likely be summoned as a witness in the public hearings as a new investigation committee is formed. Lawmakers are also likely to request a variety of documents such as text messages.
He has refuted Schexnayder's claim in a recent AP story that the Governor met with him last June and tried to dissuade a legislative investigation into Greene's murder by blaming it on an automobile accident.
Needing more answers
Page Cortez, the Republican Senate President, claimed he was also present at the meeting and recalled the Governor arguing that "nothing nefarious" occurred in Greene's arrest, that Greene "ran into a tree" following a chase.
Cortez stated that previous events have demonstrated that politicians — as well as the general public — want more answers.
Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, a Baton Rouge Democrat appointed to the investigation committee, says she wants to know "exactly what happened to make sure the family gets justice."
The legislative investigation coincides with a federal civil rights investigation into the tragic confrontation and whether police obstructed justice to protect the troopers who apprehended Greene.
Greene's death, according to an AP investigation, is only one case in dozens in a pattern of police violence hidden from the public in which troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame, and hampered efforts to root out malpractice.
Greene's mother Mona Hardin has called Edward's actions "shameful" and called for his resignation.
“He was able to stand aside as all this unfolded and just remain mute."
In December, The New York Times reported that the number of people killed by US police officers has not decreased since George Floyd and Daunte Wright's murders in 2020, knowing that many US police violence cases go unreported or misclassified in official records.
Over 1,600 people or an average of three people per day were killed by police since Floyd's death in May 2020, the paper revealed.