Louisiana State Police on Friday released body-camera videos from the arrest of Ronald Greene, a Black man whose death in custody triggered fresh outrage this week after leaked footage showed Greene pleading with troopers who stunned him, dragged him and left him shackled facedown.
State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis also said he had replaced the leader of a troop dogged by allegations of abuse and made other changes to his command staff. Video of Greene’s May 2019 arrest obtained by The Associated Press — withheld for two years by authorities amid allegations of a cover-up — added to mounting scrutiny of Troop F, which saw four of its members charged this year after an excessive force investigation.
“I assure you that we are making significant change,” Davis said at a news conference Friday evening. “We have made significant change, and we will continue to make significant change throughout our agency.”
The footage newly uploaded to YouTube represents all of the state police’s video from the incident, officials said. It includes body-camera as well as some in-car camera footage from four state troopers: Kory York, John Clary, Dakota DeMoss and Chris Hollingsworth, who died last fall. Lawyers for Greene’s family have also called for the arrest of officer Floyd McElroy, as the Justice Department investigates.
“We have been in close contact with FBI and we expect federal indictments to happen soon,” Lee Merritt, an attorney for Greene’s family, said in a Friday night statement to The Washington Post. “The Greene family has waited long enough for justice.”
The partial video released this week by the AP showed Greene wailing and saying “I’m sorry!” as troopers violently arrest him, deploying what the AP identified as a stun gun after appearing to raise his hands inside his car. Troopers later punch Greene in the face, drag him briefly by his shackled ankles and leave him to moan alone while handcuffed for more than nine minutes, the AP reported.
“I’m scared! I’m scared! … I’m scared!” the 49-year-old yelled while bent over in the front seat. “I’m your brother. I’m scared!”
Medics soon found Greene unresponsive, according to his family’s wrongful death lawsuit, and he was pronounced dead minutes after arriving at a hospital.
Davis said that state police had intended to make the videos public at the proper time; police previously said that unauthorized release compromised a “fair and impartial outcome.”
Davis said he hopes the community can start a “healing process” but declined Friday to comment to reporters on troopers’ conduct while state and federal authorities investigate. He said he could not speak to whether Greene should be alive today.
Asked about the AP’s reporting that state police withheld basic records related to Greene’s arrest from the medical examiner — including police reports and emergency medical information — Davis said he could not discuss the matter.
“I really don’t know why or when,” Davis said. “I would have to look at that.”
A long-hidden autopsy attributed Greene’s death to “cocaine induced agitated delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint,” according to the AP.
Lawyers for the troopers involved in the arrest have previously either declined to comment or not responded to The Post. State police said they intend to fire DeMoss, who is on leave and faces charges in the alleged beating of another Black driver.
Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday that he supported the release of all the footage in state police’s possession and found the video, which he watched last year, to be “disturbing.”
Troopers filmed with Greene appear to be White, and the AP describes them as White.
Greene was driving his silver Toyota along a highway in Monroe, La., about midnight on May 10, 2019, according to his family’s lawsuit. The body-cam video shows trooper DeMoss chasing Greene down a highway at more than 115 mph, the AP reported.
“We got to do something,” DeMoss said over his radio, according to the AP, just before police caught with Greene. “He’s going to kill somebody.”
DeMoss has said he tried to stop Greene after observing an unspecified “traffic violation,” the lawsuit from Greene’s family states. It says Greene eventually swerved and crashed into a wooded area but did not hit a tree and was able to leave the car on his own.
Video obtained by the AP shows Greene putting at least one hand up inside his car as troopers approach and shout with expletives, “Let me see your … hands!” Greene recoils and pleads with police as they shock him while he is still inside the car.
Troopers get Greene on the ground and struggle with him, with one man saying Greene is grabbing him, the AP reported. But they use force even when Greene is apparently restrained and compliant.
One video obtained by the AP shows an officer berating Greene for trying to change positions as he lay on his stomach, restrained.
“Don’t you turn over! Lay on your belly! Lay on your belly!” a trooper yells, briefly dragging Greene by his shackled ankles and then kneeling on the man’s back.
“You better lay on your … belly like I told you to!” he orders. “You understand?”
“Yes, sir!” Greene cries. “OK, OK, sir!”
When Greene is shackled and cuffed, police leave him unattended, bloody and still facing the ground, according to the AP.
One of the troopers, Hollingsworth, admitted to beating Greene in a profanity-laced recording obtained by the AP.
“Choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Hollingsworth said, the news agency reported. He described a prolonged struggle with Greene, who he said “was spitting blood everywhere and all of a sudden … just went limp.”
The lawsuit filed by Greene’s family says police initially told loved ones Greene died in a car crash; in fact, the lawsuit alleges, excessive force left Greene “beaten, bloodied, and in cardiac arrest.”
Police pointed Friday to local news articles from the day Greene died that said he became “combative” with officers and was handcuffed after a struggle, according to authorities.
DeMoss got a “letter of counseling” and a “letter of reprimand,” according to the state police. He was found to have violated rules on “courtesy” and body-worn or car cameras, officials said.
York was found to have violated rules on body-worn cameras and treatment of people in custody and got a 50-hour suspension. He has “returned to active duty pending the outcome of the review by federal and state authorities,” state police said.
Hollingsworth was set to be fired last fall, but died in a single-vehicle crash shortly after learning his intended punishment, the AP reported.
The criminal investigations division in Monroe reviewed the incident and submitted materials in August of 2019 to prosecutors in Lincoln Parish, according to a timeline released Friday by state police. In February 2020, police said, they provided a case file to the Justice Department. Then, more than a year after Greene’s death, an administrative investigation into troopers’ use of force began.
Critics have cast Greene’s death as part of systemic issues in the Louisiana State Police and their treatment of people of color. Court filings recently drew new attention to DeMoss and other troopers’ roles in the alleged beating of 29-year-old Antonio Harris.
Alanah Odoms, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, told The Post this week that she wants the Justice Department to investigate the Louisiana State Police and Troop F.
Odoms said of the body camera footage: “It provides to the public — in the same way that the George Floyd video did — the necessary kind of tangible and frankly gruesome and infuriating kind of proof of what our community members have known inherently and anecdotally for too long.”
Davis defended the Louisiana State Police as a whole on Friday, echoing other police leaders’ references to “bad apples.”
“While we may have a few bad actors, it’s our job and it’s my job to hold them accountable,” Davis said.