Louisiana officials charged with arresting black driver

Farmerville, Louisiana –

Five law enforcement officers in Louisiana were indicted on Thursday with a number of state crimes ranging from negligent homicide to malfeasance, including the fatal 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, who authorities initially put to death A car crash was blamed, after which long-suppressed body camera video showed white officers beating, stunning and dragging a black driver, crying, “I’m scared!”

It was the first criminal charge of any kind to emerge in Green’s bloody roadside death in rural northeastern Louisiana, a case that had received little attention until an Associated Press investigation revealed a cover-up and prompted a review by top Louisiana police officers. Concerned, the U.S. Department of Justice conducts a comprehensive review of the agency and conducts a legislative investigation into what Governor John Bel Edwards knew and when he knew it.

“We’re all excited about the prosecution, but are they really going to pay for it?” said Green’s mother, Mona Hardin, who has been pressuring state and federal investigators for more than three years. And vowed not to bury her “Ronnie” cremated body until she gets a fair trial. “As much fun as we are, we want to keep going.”

Facing the most serious charge from a state grand jury is Mountie Master Cory York, who can be seen in body camera footage dragging Green by his ankles, putting his feet on his back and forcing him to fall , and let the big man face down in the dirt for over nine minutes. Use-of-force experts said the actions could have severely restricted Greene’s breathing, and the state police’s own force instructor called the soldiers’ actions “torture and murder.” York was charged with manslaughter and 10 counts of misconduct.

Others facing various charges of malfeasance and obstruction include a soldier who denied the existence of his body camera footage, another who exaggerated Greene’s resistance at the scene, and a local state police commander whom detectives say pressured them to demand They don’t want the case and the Union Parish sheriff’s deputies to hear on video taunting Greene with “s— hurts, doesn’t it?”

United Parish District Attorney John Belton, who filed warrants for all five indicted officers, praised the racially mixed grand jury for hearing the evidence and said the people have had their say.

“These actions are inexcusable and have no place in the professional public safety service,” said Col. Lamar Davis, the state police chief, after the indictment, adding that his agency had made a “criticism” over the past two years. Fundamental improvements aimed at “rebuilding trust in the communities we serve.”

Belton has long held off pursuing state charges at the request of the Justice Department, which is conducting a separate criminal investigation. But as the years went by and federal prosecutors became increasingly skeptical that they could prove that the officials acted “intentionally” — a key component of the civil rights charges they had been considering — they cleared Belton this spring to convene State grand meeting jury.

Since last month, the team has considered detailed evidence and testimony related to the soldiers’ use of force and their decision to hold the handcuffed Green prone for several minutes before rendering assistance. In this case, medical experts for the first time identified Green’s death as a homicide.

The federal grand jury investigation, which expanded last year to examine whether top state police officers obstructed justice to protect officers, is still ongoing and prosecutors have been tight-lipped about when a jury could decide on the charges.

Greene, who died on May 10, 2019, kept his death a secret from the start when authorities told grieving relatives that the 49-year-old had died in a car crash at the end of a high-speed chase near Monroe — a The claims have been questioned by both his family and even an emergency room doctor who noticed Green’s battered body. Still, the coroner’s report listed Green’s death as a motor vehicle accident, the state police crash report made no mention of officers using force, and 462 days had passed before state police began an internal investigation.

The body camera footage has been kept secret so far that it was withheld from Greene’s initial autopsy, and officials below Edwards have repeatedly declined to make it public, citing the ongoing investigation.

But last year, The Associated Press obtained and released the video, which shows what really happened: Police swarmed Green’s car, repeatedly knocked him out, punched him on the head, dragged him in handcuffs, and left him lying on his stomach. More than nine years on the ground. At times, Green could be heard begging for mercy and crying, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!”

At one point, York ordered Green to “lay on your stomach like I told you!” Christopher Harpin, the Union Parish Sheriff’s deputy, can be heard quipping: “Yeah, yeah, that hurts, doesn’t it?”

Lawyers for York and Harpin said both hope to be acquitted at trial if the charges are not dropped first. Reached by phone, former Mountie Dakota DeMoss, whose body camera captured much of the arrest, declined to comment, saying “you guys always get it wrong.” Lt. John Clary’s attorney did not Responded to the court’s request for comment. Former state police Capt. John Peters declined to comment.

Fallout not only had the Federation scrutinize soldiers, but also whether high-ranking officials obstructed justice to protect them.

Investigators focused on a meeting in which detectives said they were pressured by state police commanders to delay the arrest of an officer seen on body camera video who shot Greene in the head, He later boasted, “I beat the bastard who lived forever.” That soldier, Chris Hollingsworth, was widely believed to be the culprit of the six officers involved, but he was killed in a 2020 He was killed in a high-speed bicycle crash just as he was being told he would be arrested in Greene.

The Associated Press later found that Greene’s arrest was one of at least a dozen cases in the past decade in which state police or their superiors ignored or concealed evidence that mostly black men were beaten, deflected blame and impedes efforts to eradicate misconduct. Dozens of current and former soldiers say a culture of impunity, cronyism and, in some cases, racism has fueled the beatings.

The Justice Department cited such reports this year in its sweeping civil rights investigation of Louisiana police, the first “patterns or practices” of statewide law enforcement agencies in more than two decades.

The scrutiny has also turned to the actions of the Democratic governor, who oversees the state police.

A legislative group launched a “violent, protracted struggle” this year over the state’s handling of Greene’s case after The Associated Press reported that Edwards was told within hours that soldiers who arrested Greene engaged in a “violent, lengthy struggle” but remained largely silent. “At all levels” investigation Two years on, police continue to pursue car crash theory.

A separate AP report found that Edwards privately watched vital body camera video of Greene’s fatal arrest six months before state attorneys said they didn’t even know it existed, and neither the governor, his staff nor state police had Urgent action was taken to get the tape into the hands of Greene to those with authority to press charges.

Edwards has repeatedly said he did nothing to influence or impede the investigation of Green and described the police actions as criminal and racist. But he has yet to testify before a legislative panel, saying he was unable to testify at last month’s hearing and instead participated in the groundbreaking of an infrastructure project.

“The governor has consistently indicated in his public statements that he intends to cooperate,” a spokesman told The Associated Press. “That hasn’t changed.”

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