The governor of Louisiana knew that video existed of a violent traffic stop that ended in the death of an unarmed Black man at the hands of police, and even watched it with other officials and his lawyers months before the investigators looking into the case were clued in, the Associated Press reports.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), sat in a state police conference room to watch the half-hour of body camera footage which depicts the final moments of Ronald Greene. There has long been suspicion of an official cover-up in the death of Greene, who was 49 when he died in 2020. The fatal traffic stop happened in May 2019, and by the time details of his death came to light, including the fact that at least one Louisiana trooper admitted to brutalizing him with a flashlight, the country was embroiled in the aftermath of another police killing, that of George Floyd, who was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.
From the Associated Press
While the Democratic governor has distanced himself from allegations of a cover-up in the explosive case by contending evidence was promptly turned over to authorities, an Associated Press investigation based on interviews and records found that wasn’t the case with the 30-minute video he watched. 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.
That video, which showed critical moments and audio absent from other footage that was turned over, 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.
Greene’s family was originally told by law enforcement that he died in a car accident. That story fell apart after revelations of the video, which prove that troopers pummeled and tased him, then watched him die at the scene. Greene screams, moans and gurgles as the assault continues until he finally goes silent.
Last month, a former Louisiana State Police colonel, Kevin Reeves, didn’t show up for a scheduled hearing in front of the state’s police commission to answer questions about his handling of a whistleblower in the department who was fired in the wake of Greene’s death.
One of the troopers recorded beating Greene, Chris Hollingsworth, died in a car crash that many still suspect was a suicide shortly after being interviewed about his role in Greene’s death.
Though his death was ruled accidental, Hollingsworth’s early morning, off-duty crash into a highway guardrail in Monroe prompted widespread speculation the trooper took his own life. Hollingsworth was sober, not wearing a seatbelt and was a state police driving instructor traveling an interstate he had patrolled for decades. Crash reconstruction experts who reviewed case reports for the AP agreed the circumstances were suspicious and the probe by local police was inadequate.
The interview with investigators that preceded Hollingsworth’s fatal crash was just made public last month. In it, the former trooper, who had appeared almost giddy while brutalizing Greene, tried to play the victim, saying that the man who laid unarmed, handcuffed and surrounded by officers is the one who posed the real danger:
We’ll follow up and let you know if charges are ever brought against anyone in this tragedy.