An internal investigation into the Louisiana State Police has concluded that Lt. John Clary, an officer accused of hiding body camera footage of the brutal beating and death of Black motorist Ronald Greene, will not be disciplined or charged.
In a statement from the state police spokesman, the administrative investigation determined that there was no evidence that proved or disproved the allegations that Clary lied about the footage or purposely hid it. According to ABC affiliate WBRZ on Tuesday, the internal affairs investigation concluded in July.
When Ronald Greene died in police custody after attempting to elude a traffic stop in May 2019, officers told his family that he died after his car crashed into a tree. Both the family and medical examiner noticed that Greene’s severe injuries showed a lot more than a car crash had happened that night. Still Clary, according to the Associated Press, told detectives that he didn’t have any body camera footage from the incident.
Then last year, a graphic video miraculously emerged showing that Greene was beaten, choked, dragged and tased by officers. It was taken by Clary’s body camera.
NOLA reports that Clary’s footage was missing from the investigative file sent to Union Parish District Attorney John Belton in 2019, and only turned up this past March after a State police training instructor told investigators that it existed.
A federal civil rights investigation is underway into Greene’s death, along with the beatings of at least three other Black motorists by troopers with Monroe-based Troop F in 2019 and 2020. The troop, with about 60 members covering a dozen northeast Louisiana parishes, is almost entirely White.
When Clary arrived, Greene was already shackled and facedown on the roadside. Master Trooper Kory York was straddling Greene and holding him down while he moaned and howled.
Clary’s video shows troopers finally propping up Greene, who had gone limp and stopped breathing by the time emergency technicians arrived, according to a report by Trooper Albert Paxton, a State Police detective assigned to the case. Clary gave a statement saying troopers sat up Greene and “held his head up so he could get a clear airway,” but his video shows otherwise, Paxton wrote.
Computer logs show that Clary, the highest-ranking trooper on the scene that night, downloaded the footage from his body camera a few hours after Greene died, along with those of DeMoss and Hollingsworth. But according to Paxton, the videos Clary gave him that day ended up including three copies of his dashcam video and none from his body camera.
Clary also claimed he’d reached the scene only after “everything was over,” and that he didn’t have body-camera video, the report said.
In February, State Trooper Kory York was suspended without pay after the body camera footage showed him kicking and dragging Greene by his leg shackles. Chris Hollingsworth, who has since died in a car crash, was caught on audio from his body camera bragging about beating and choking Greene, according to AP.
Over the weekend, Clary was seen guarding LA Tech head football coach Skip Holtz at a team game with Mississippi State on national television. That’s pretty high profile for someone who allegedly lied about bodycam footage and quietly got away with it.
Let’s take a moment to realize that if Clary continued to conveniently forget about his body camera footage, Greene’s family and the public would still be left questioning his death. It feels a bit cheap that he’s getting off without discipline, but you can’t expect great results when the police are told to investigate themselves.
The federal investigation into the troopers, including Greene’s case, is still underway.