The death of Ronald Greene of Baton Rouge, La, was captured on police body-cam video and it’s more shocking than anyone could have imagined. Greene’s family members cried and recoiled in horror after finally getting access to the long-secret video this week of the in-custody death of Greene, a Black man who died in Louisiana State Police custody. The chilling footage shows Lousiana State Troopers choking and beating the Greene, while jolting him time and time again with stun guns and dragging him face-down across the pavement.
“This family has been lied to the entire time about what happened,” said civil rights attorney Lee Merritt. “The video was very difficult to watch. It’s one of those videos like George Floyd and even Ahmaud Arbery where it’s just so graphic.”
The May 2019 video, which police have held close to the breast and refused to release publicly, refutes the state’s contention that Green dies in a car crash. The state police also waited more than a year to discipline one of the responding officers. Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who died in a single-car crash last month just hours after learning he had been fired over his role in the incident.
The meeting followed AP’s disclosure of a 27-second audio clip from Hollingsworth’s body-camera in which he can be heard telling a colleague, “I beat the ever-living f— out of him,” and of graphic pictures of Greene’s body released by his family showing deep bruises to his face and cuts on his head.
Greene’s family on Wednesday heard that exchange and a string of “abusive language” the troopers used during the arrest and in-custody death Merritt said, even though Greene made no effort to flee following a high-speed chase.
At one point, an officer is seen placing a foot on Greene “while another hogties him,” he said. One trooper can be heard calling Greene a “stupid son of a b——,” Merrit said, while another cautions that “we shouldn’t tase him anymore.”
“Ronald immediately surrendered at 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 medical report — cited in a federal wrongful death lawsuit but not previously made public — has been held up by Greene’s family as evidence that troopers were actively engaged in a cover up.
“Does not add up,” Dr. Omokhuale Omokhodion wrote.
Police initially told Greene’s family he had “died on impact” after crashing into a tree, the doctor wrote.
But in an addendum to his report, Omokhodion wrote that law enforcement ultimately told him Greene ”had been involved in a fight and struggle with them where he was tased three times.” Two taser probes remained in Greene’s back even after he arrived at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe supporting the in-custody death finding.
“History seems to be disjointed,” Omokhodion wrote in his report. “Different versions are present.”
The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, implored the governor to release the footage.
“While the video may fall within the exception of Louisiana’s public records law, it is imperative that in an effort 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 it “would be detrimental for that video to be made public while it is in fact evidence that they are considering.”
Greene’s death, which followed a chase near Monroe over an unspecified traffic violation, was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest, said Renee Smith, the Union Parish coroner who was not in office when that determination was made.
Omokhodion’s medical report noted that Greene, a 49-year-old barber, was “said to have been intoxicated” and “driving in excess of 110 mph” before losing control of his vehicle and driving off the road. It added that Greene had no chronic health problems.