Family of Ronald Greene pushes for changes to state police procedures

Family of Ronald Greene pushes for changes to LSP procedures
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:53 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State lawmakers looking to reform Louisiana State Police heard from the mother of a man who was beaten to death at the hands of police in 2019.

Ronald Greene, 49, was beaten to death by Louisiana state troopers after a car chase in Franklin Parish two years ago. Police claimed a car crash caused his fatal injuries until a reexamined autopsy ordered by the FBI rejected that idea.

The unusual second look at what killed Greene confirmed what his family suspected the moment they saw his bruised and battered corpse and his car with only slight damage: A minor crash at the end of a high-speed chase had nothing to do with his death. The review, which did not involve another examination of the body, attributes Greene’s death to a series of factors, including troopers striking the 49-year-old in the head, restraining him at length and his use of cocaine.

Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, says she wants those who knew about the incident prosecuted and new procedures put in place to save lives in the future.

Two troopers, Dakota Morse and George Harper, were fired back in June after video of the beating was released. Hardin’s mother wants more.

“I am looking at so many people with such power, still muddling through the process. We have cameras and valid ways of getting answers, but we’re still trying to pick the pieces,” said Ronald Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin.

Hardin wants full accountability for anyone involved in her son’s death and subsequent cover-up. Police body cam video remained hidden for nearly two years and state lawmakers want to know how that could happen.

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Greene’s May 10, 2019, death came after he failed to stop for a traffic violation and led troopers on a midnight chase across northern Louisiana at speeds topping 115 mph (185 km/h), ending along a rural roadside near Monroe. State police initially told Greene’s family he died after crashing into a tree, an account the Union Parish coroner committed to writing in an official report, which describes Greene’s death as a motor vehicle accident and makes no mention of a confrontation with troopers.

After officials refused for more than two years to release the troopers’ body camera video, the Associated Press obtained and published it this spring, showing white troopers converging on Greene before he can even get out of his car, repeatedly stunning and punching him as he appears to surrender and repeatedly wails, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” A trooper can later be seen dragging the heavyset Greene by his ankle shackles and he is left prone and face down in the dirt for more than nine minutes before he eventually goes limp.

The Associated Press says their investigation has revealed a pattern of violence within Louisiana State Police.

State police leaders say videos download automatically when body cameras are placed in a dock for charging, but some lawmakers worry that incriminating video is still too easy to hide.

“Does the system send a message when he or she is off duty and it hasn’t been docked?” asked Senator Katrina Jackson.

”No ma’am it does not,” said LSP Col. Lamar Davis.

“What happened to Ronald Greene was a travesty, but what we heard here today gives me no confidence that this system can’t produce another one and that’s problematic,” said Eugene Collins, the president of the Baton Rouge chapter of La. NAACP.

State lawmakers pledge to make new rules governing state police procedures.

“If we prevent any of these in the future we will have done our job,” said Senator Gerald Boudreaux (D-Lake Charles).

“What happened to my Ronnie shouldn’t have happened at all and it was done without a second thought and the state of Louisiana needs to fix this,” said Hardin.

Though two troopers were fired after Greene’s death, a separate criminal investigation continues. The FBI is assisting in a federal civil rights investigation.

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