The Louisiana State Police’s top cop said he’d welcome an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into patterns of racial profiling and disproportionate use of force against Black people committed by state troopers in recent years.
According to the Associated Press, this comes after an AP investigation found that state police personnel either ignored or concealed evidence of police beatings, including body camera footage of several violent arrests that were hidden for years.
The investigation also found instances of state police troopers and supervisors deflecting blame for these incidents and delaying attempts to stop misconduct.
State police Col. Lamar Davis, who is Black, said during a Friday news conference that he was concerned by the concealed footage and the fact that 67 percent of his agency’s uses of force in recent years were against Black people.
From the AP:
“It challenged me emotionally, not just from a law enforcement perspective but as a citizen,” Davis said of viewing the footage. “But I have to put my emotions in check and understand what my duties are.”
“I don’t want the community thinking we’re going to ‘get them.’ Those are the types of things I’m trying to get to the root of.”
Davis told the AP that he didn’t believe excessive force at his agency was widespread enough to initiate a pattern-or-practice investigation by the justice department. He also said he wants to correct the state police’s problems before the feds step in, including hiring an outside firm to conduct a review.
More from the AP:
“With regards to the Justice Department, if they decide that they’re going to come in and assess us on that then I welcome it,” Davis said in the news conference. “I’m not going to wait on them. I’m already in contact with other organizations to look at my agency and help us become better.”
A federal investigation into the state police’s fatal 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, which began after previously withheld body camera footage of the beating was leaked, is currently underway. Lt. John Clary, the highest-ranking official at the scene of Greene’s death, will not be disciplined because an internal investigation was unable to prove if he purposely lied or hid the footage.
Per The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, Democratic U.S. Rep. Troy Carter has requested for U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to begin a pattern-or-practice investigation into Louisiana State Police. In a letter he submitted to Garland’s office, Carter has “no faith” that state police officials are capable of holding the department accountable, despite what Davis said Friday.
“Had it not been for the work of investigative journalists, we may never have heard of Ronald Greene,” Carter wrote. “My heart breaks for the Greene family and the countless other individuals whose fate was sealed and concealed by LSP, and whose names we still do not know.”