BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Family members watched a long secret body-camera video this week of a Black man who died in the care of Louisiana City Police, their lawyer called it to ruin the shots. shows troops choking and beating the man, repeatedly stabbing him with stunned guns and dragging him face down to the pavement.
Ronald Greene’s mother and brother cried “as if at a funeral” Wednesday after meeting with Governor John Bel Edwards and watching a half-hour footage of the May 2019 encounter that is now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, the they told the lawyer to The Associated Press.
“This family lied all the time about what happened,”; said civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who also looked at the footage. “It is very difficult to watch the video. This is one of those videos like George Floyd and even Ahmaud Arbery where it’s just graphic. ”
The video, in which police refused to release it publicly, only added to repeated questions about Greene’s death, such as why the State Police had previously blamed it on a car crash and why they waited more than a year to discipline one of the responding officers. Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth was killed in a single-car crash last month just hours after learning he was fired from the incident.
The meeting followed the AP’s disclosure of a 27-second audio clip from Hollingsworth’s body-camera where he is heard saying to a colleague, “I beat the ever-living f — out of him,” and the graphic images of Greene’s body released by his family showing deep bruises on his face and cuts on his head.
Greene’s family heard on Wednesday that the exchange and a series of “abusive language” used by the soldiers during the arrest, Merritt said, though no effort was made for Greene to flee following a quick chase.
At one point, an officer was seen putting one foot on Greene “while another hogty him,” he said. One troop is heard calling Greene a “stupid son of ab——,” Merritt said, while another warns “let’s not bother him anymore.”
“Ronald immediately gave up on his first contact with law enforcement. When the vehicle stopped, he put his hands up and said, ‘I’m sorry,'” Merritt said. “His dying words were , ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
The AP also obtained a medical report showing that even an emergency room doctor doubted the initial police account of Greene’s death since he arrived dead at the hospital, beaten and bled with two stun-gun prongs on his rear.
The medical report – cited in a federal misdemeanor charge of death but not previously made public – was held by Greene’s family as evidence that soldiers were actively participating in a cover-up.
“It does not add up,” wrote Dr. Omokhuale Omokhodion.
Police first told Greene’s family he had “died of the effects” after falling from a tree, the doctor wrote.
But in addition to his report, Omokhodion wrote that law enforcement officials had finally told him that Greene “was involved in a fight and struggle with them in which he was spied on three times.” Two taser probes remained behind Greene even as he arrived at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe.
“History seems to rot,” Omokhodion wrote in his report. “Different versions are present.”
The continuous drumbeat of the revelations brought national exposure to the case and raised pressure on Edwards, a Democrat, to order the release of full body-cam videos from the six troops on the scene.
The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, Edwards’ closest ally, called on the governor to release the shot.
“While the video may be within the Louisiana public records exception law, it is imperative that with the efforts of full transparency and public trust the video be released immediately,” the caucus said in a statement.
State and federal prosecutors deemed it appropriate for the family to watch the video, Edwards said Thursday, but they believe they will “join that video to make it public as it is really evidence they are considering.”
“I will not sit here and recognize the video for you,” the governor told reporters.
Greene’s death, which followed a chase near Monroe due to an unspecified traffic violation, was inadvertently decided and attributed to heart arrest, said Renee Smith, the coroner of Union Parish who was not in office when that decision was made.
The Omokhodion medical report noted that Greene, a 49-year-old barber, was “allegedly drunk” and “driving more than 110 mph” before losing control of his vehicle and driving on the road. It added that Greene had no serious health problems.
The timeline of the report is also slightly different from that recorded in a State Police crash report that omitted any mention of troops using force or even keeping Greene safe. The State Police report cites Greene crashing into a tree as “most damaging event” in the crash.
Mustian reported from New York.