In 2019, 49-year-old Ronald Greene was killed following an encounter with Louisiana State Troopers. Local officials told Greene’s family that he’d died in a car wreck while fleeing the police. New footage shows that was a lie.
Greene did flee the police, but the car collision that ended the chase was minor. Instead, 46 minutes of body cam footage obtained by the Associated Press shows that Greene was beaten, tased, viciously mocked and threatened and dragged before he died. An emergency room doctor found stun gun prong wounds in his back, though the police report did not reference any such tasing or even resistance on Greene’s part. The exact cause of Greene’s death remains unclear, since Louisiana State Police have remained tight-lipped ever since AP released the footage.
It’s not clear why police attempted to pull Greene over outside Monroe, Louisiana, but the subsequent high-speed chase ended when Greene crashed the car. The footage shows police approaching the vehicle while Greene attempts to apologize and tells them that he’s scared. He is interrupted by police tasers, which continue even as he starts to shriek apologies. “I’m your brother!” Greene cries out as the unarmed man is tasered over and over. “I’m scared! I’m scared!”
Greene is then handcuffed and left on his stomach on the ground for at least nine minutes, although police are supposed to sit apprehended suspects up or place them on their side, to avoid suffocation. When Greene attempts to roll onto his side, a trooper uses his boot to force Green back onto his stomach. He is also dragged by his ankles, choked and punched repeatedly in the face.
The mic captures threats and profanity, including one trooper who calls him a ““stupid motherf*****” and another who says “I hope this guy ain’t got f***ing AIDS.”
The AP didn’t get the video through official channels, and the Louisiana State Police have criticized their decision to release it, saying the “…premature public release of investigative files and video evidence in this case is not authorized and…undermines the investigative process and compromises the fair and impartial outcome.”
Premature or otherwise, troopers deceived Greene’s family about the nature of his death and didn’t bother opening an internal investigation into what happened until 474 days after it happened. Greene’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit after the stun gun wounds on Greene’s back and the minor damage to his car led them to doubt the official narrative of what happened that night.
In September, one of the troopers who was involved in the incident, Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, was killed in a single-car crash just hours after he was told he would be fired for his role. The AP had released an audio clip of him telling a colleague that he had “beat the ever-living f*** out of” Greene. Another involved officer had been arrested for a separate incident of excessive force.
The bodycam footage has not been released in its entirety yet, but the footage we already have throws the authorities’ version of what happened out completely. Andrew Scott, a former Boca Raton, Florida, police chief who testifies as an expert witness about the police use of force told the AP that the officers’ actions were “malicious, sadistic, completely unnecessary.”
“That should never have never happened,” he continued. “You’ve got the guy completely compromised. He’s not hurting anybody.”