The man hired to prosecute the officers charged in the fatal beating of Ronald Greene in 2019 has a controversial resume which raises questions of who he’s really fighting for. Despite the controversy surrounding Greene’s death and the call for police reform, the prosecutor told The Associated Press this isn’t another Black Lives Matter moment.
Hugo Holland, a seasoned north Louisiana prosecutor has a reputation for winning tough cases but also bearing the criticisms around a number of unpopular antics. According to AP, he has a KKK leader framed on his wall, wrote to a judge supporting Kyle Rittenhouse during his murder trial and joked in an email about “chasing down a Black guy” in his truck. Electing Holland to handle a high-profile police brutality case is certainly a juxtaposition we never saw coming.
Though, Union Parish’s first Black district attorney, John Belton, saw Holland as the perfect fit to handle the Greene case, per NOLA.com. His triumphant litigation in difficult capital murder trials (which landed him 11 death penalty convictions under his belt) and assistance in public corruption or cold cases outshined his behavior outside the courtroom.
“I know him to be a prosecutor who seeks one thing, and that’s justice. That’s my main focus,” Belton said via NOLA.com.
Hugo Holland’s Credibility and Prior Experience
Of those notorious death penalty convictions, NOLA.com reports half of them have been overturned, two of them were challenged in court and three of them accuse Holland of withholding evidence. Imagine the tax dollars wasted on holding an innocent person on death row. Actually, Loyola University found in a 2019 study that the state spends $15.6 million per year to maintain its capital punishment system.
Local activists don’t trust Holland’s prosecution of the officers who beat Ronald Greene considering he used to be an officer himself for 20 years in Bossier City. In 2012, he was fired from being an assistant DA for Caddo Parish after him and another prosecutor were caught falsifying documents to get military grade rifles through a program meant for police departments, per The Washington Post. Following that, he was handpicked by the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association to help advocate against criminal justice reform bills and became a freelancer.
When he arrived at prosecuting a police brutality case in 2018, he decided not to charge two white sheriff’s deputies who kicked a Black suspect in the face with steel-toed boots (and on camera), per AP. With all that being said, it’s worth wondering how ethical it was to hire Holland to handle a case that embodies everything he’s seemed to work against: convicting a group of allegedly crooked cops in a case that sparked a federal probe into Louisiana state police.
Read more from AP News.
But Hugo Holland’s background is also marked by accusations of racial bias, including new claims uncovered by The Associated Press, that make him an unlikely advocate for racial justice. In fact, he says the concept has no place in the Greene case or anywhere in the justice system.
“Justice is justice,” Holland told the AP. “It doesn’t make any difference what race the offender or the victim is. F——— race has got nothing to do with it.”
“These cases are sort of like prosecuting a parent for cruelty for disciplining their child: Where is the line? That line is fuzzy. It’s not black and white,” he said. “It’s very unusual for there to be an unlawful use of force. It’s extremely rare.”
Of particular interest to Holland are accusations that some officers were involved in a cover-up of Greene’s death. He likened the situation to the Watergate scandal that doomed Richard Nixon’s presidency. “If I can prove the cover-up,” he said, “those people are in trouble.”
About the Ronald Greene Case
In 2019, Greene crashed his rental car after being chased by state troopers. When the officers approached his vehicle, he was repeatedly tased and beaten then dragged on his belly while shackled by his legs. He died on the scene. Authorities initially stated he died as a result of the car crash until the body camera footage released and exposed what really happened.
The five officers involved face a slew of criminal charges including malfeasance and negligent homicide as well as federal charges from the lawsuit Greene’s family filed after the incident.