Five Louisiana law enforcement officers have been arrested and charged with a spate of crimes in connection with the 2019 death of a Black motorist whose excessive injuries were captured by the officers’ own body-worn cameras.
Ronald Greene, 49, died while in police custody after being pulled over by troopers on a rural road outside Monroe in May 2019, purportedly for failing to pull over for a traffic violation. Authorities initially said that Greene died from a car crash, but an investigation from the Associated Press revealed otherwise: police-worn body camera footage from the incident showed the white officers beating, stunning, and dragging Greene, who is Black, even as he told the officers he was scared and apologized to them.
The charges, handed down Thursday, come about one month after a grand jury convened to review the evidence, which included body-camera footage from the officers involved.
Greene was stunned seven times for a total of 19 seconds, according to an AP review of internal records.
“I’m your brother!” Greene could be heard pleading with the cops as they repeatedly hit him with a stun gun. “I’m scared! I’m scared!”
“I’m sorry!” he is later heard crying as another trooper stunned him yet again and warned him that he would “get it again” if he didn’t put his hands behind his back.
Video also shows Green being dragged facedown by his ankles after they had been shackled together, his hands cuffed behind him. The officers did not try to aid Greene, who was left facedown for more than nine minutes as they reportedly used sanitizer wipes to clean the blood off their hands and faces, according to the AP.
“I hope this guy ain’t got f—— AIDS,” one of the troopers can be heard saying, per an AP report.
The video was released two years after Greene’s death, following an investigation by the Associated Press.
“These actions are inexcusable and have no place in professional public safety services,” Col. Lamar Davis, the head of Louisiana state police, said after the indictments, according to the AP.
The exact cause of Greene’s death is unclear, the AP has reported. According to a medical report reviewed by the news organization, an emergency room doctor noted that Greene had arrived at the hospital already dead, covered in bruises and blood, two stun-gun prongs still in his back. The doctor questioned the troopers’ story that Greene had died after crashing into a tree.
“Does not add up,” the doctor wrote, according to the AP.
One of the troopers, Lt. John Clary — the ranking officer on the scene of Greene’s arrest — reportedly told investigators that he didn’t have body-worn camera footage from that night, and instead handed over a thumb drive with footage from the other officers’ cameras. However, Clary’s body-worn camera did record the events of that night, and reportedly show Greene’s body going still while under the weight of two troopers. That video also reportedly shows the troopers ordering Greene to stay face down on the grown while restrained for more than nine minutes.
A state police internal investigation into Clary didn’t result in discipline, the AP reported, because the investigation couldn’t determine whether he “purposefully withheld” the video. Clary is now charged with malfeasance in office and obstruction of justice.
Master Trooper Kory York is charged with negligent homicide and 10 counts of malfeasance in office, according to the Associated Press. He is seen in the footage dragging Greene by his ankle shackles and putting his foot on his back to keep him down.
Trooper Dakota DeMoss is charged with obstruction of justice. He reportedly told investigators that he “survived a fight for his life” while taking Greene into custody, even though his own body-worn camera footage contradicted that account. DeMoss also reportedly said that Greene “never gave up resisting” and was “hollering and being belligerent” throughout the arrest, while in reality, Greene is seen on video apologizing and telling the officers that he is scared.
The AP reported that DeMoss was fired from State Police in 2021 after he was arrested in connection with a different case in which a Black driver was beaten by four troopers after a high-speed chase.
Union Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Harpin is charged with three counts of malfeasance in office. He arrived late to the scene, after troopers had already been struggling with Greene, according to the AP. He is seen on body-worn camera footage helping troopers handcuff Greene and later saying to him: “Yeah, yeah, that shit hurts, doesn’t it?” He has been placed on leave.
John Peters, the regional troop commander at the time, is accused of telling state police detectives to conceal evidence in Greene’s case, according to the AP.
Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who the AP says immediately deployed his stun gun immediately upon encountering Greene alongside DeMoss, died in a high-speed, single-vehicle car crash in 2020 hours after learning he would be fired for his role in Greene’s death, the AP reported.
“We’re all excited for the indictments but are they actually going to pay for it?” said Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, according to the Associated Press. “As happy as we are, we want something to stick.”
[Image via YouTube screengrab/CBS News.]
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