Louisiana governor saw Greene's crucial arrest video months before
Louisiana's Democratic Governor is accused of not acting urgently to submit crucial footage of Ronald Greene's murder to prosecutors.
An AP investigation revealed that Louisiana's Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and his top lawyers gathered in October in a state police conference room to privately watch a crucial body-camera video of the Black motorist Ronald Greene's deadly arrest.
According to the news agency, prosecutors, detectives, and medical examiners didn't know this video existed till after six months.
"Neither Edwards, his staff nor the state police he oversees acted urgently to get the crucial footage into the hands of those with the power to charge the white troopers seen stunning, punching and dragging Greene," the AP said.
The footage that Edwards saw "wouldn’t reach prosecutors until nearly two years after Greene’s May 10, 2019, death on a rural roadside near Monroe. Now three years have passed, and after lengthy, ongoing federal and state probes, still no one has been criminally charged," the AP highlighted.
Edwards’ attorneys claimed that the governor did not know that the video he watched wasn't already turned over to prosecutors, adding that the governor did not try to withhold evidence.
However, "the governor’s attorneys didn’t mention seeing the video in a meeting just days later with state prosecutors, who wouldn’t receive the footage until a detective discovered it almost by accident six months later," the AP said.
The main issue being discussed "is the 30-minute body-camera footage from Lt. John Clary, the highest-ranking trooper to respond to Greene’s arrest. It is one of two videos of the incident, and captured events not seen on the 46-minute clip from Trooper Dakota DeMoss that shows troopers swarming Greene’s car after a high-speed chase, repeatedly jolting him with stun guns, beating him in the head and dragging him by his ankle shackles," the AP indicated.
The Associated Press explained that Clary’s video "shows troopers ordering the heavyset, 49-year-old to remain face down on the ground with his hands and feet restrained for more than nine minutes — a tactic use-of-force experts criticized as dangerous and likely to have restricted his breathing."
The state police’s own use-of-force expert even described the troopers’ actions as “torture and murder.”
The Clary video reached state police internal affairs officers more than a year after Greene’s death, but it was unknown to detectives working on the case and was missing from the initial investigative case file submitted to prosecutors in August 2019.
"Detectives say Clary falsely claimed he didn’t have any body-camera footage of his own from Greene’s arrest and instead gave investigators a thumb drive of other troopers’ videos. However, State police say Clary properly uploaded his body-camera footage to an online evidence storage system," the AP said.
However, the detectives investigating Greene’s death said they were denied access to the video storage system and had to rely on Clary to provide the footage.
The news agency cited the governor's office as saying that Edwards and his top attorneys watched Clary's video in a state police building in Baton Rouge, then flew days later to Ruston to discuss the videos they watched with John Belton, the Union Parish district attorney leading the state investigation.
"The Oct. 13 meeting was intended to plan a closed-door event the next day in which Greene’s family would meet the governor and view footage of the arrest. Although the meeting was about showing video of the arrest, it never emerged that the governor’s lawyers and police commanders were all aware of the Clary footage while prosecutors were in the dark," the AP underlined.
In addition, Greene's family affirmed they were not shown in the Clary video when meeting Edwards on October 14.
However, state police spokesman Capt. Nick Manale said that “the department has no proof of what was shown to the family that day.”
Commenting on the Clary video, Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Greene family, told the AP, “We were told it was of no evidentiary value.”
On her part, Mona Hardin, Greene's mother said, “The fact is we never saw it."
"An AP investigation that followed found Greene’s was among at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which state police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct. Dozens of current and former troopers said the beatings were countenanced by a culture of impunity, nepotism and, in some cases, outright racism," the Associated Press pointed out.