The Justice Department is investigating the Louisiana State Police after a number of incidents involving troopers beating Black men while their supervisors allegedly covered it up.
The investigation, announced this afternoon, comes less than a month after revelations that Gov. John Bel Edwards and other officials had watched body camera footage of the fatal beating of motorist Ronald Greene in 2019 by troopers but didn’t turn over the video to investigators until two years later. To this day, no one has been charged in connection with Greene’s death.
But the Justice Department believes that incident is part of a broader pattern inside the department in which troopers are often violent with people they pull over for minor infractions and rarely face consequences. In recent years, the Justice Department has conducted similar investigations of urban police departments like Baltimore, Louisville and Minneapolis. But it is the first such “pattern and practice” investigation into a statewide policing agency in nearly 20 years, according to the Associated Press.
AP’s reporting found troopers have made a habit of turning off or muting body cameras during pursuits. When footage is recorded, the agency has routinely refused to release it. And a recently retired supervisor who oversaw a particularly violent clique of troopers told internal investigators last year that it was his “common practice” to rubber-stamp officers’ use-of-force reports without ever reviewing body-camera video.
In some cases, troopers omitted uses of force such as blows to the head from official reports, and in others troopers sought to justify their actions by claiming suspects were violent, resisting or escaping, all of which were contradicted by video footage.
In addition to the revelation about the video in Greene’s killing, also last month three Louisiana troopers were charged in the beating of another Black motorist, Antonio Harris. That incident was caught on body camera video as well.