When Ronald Greene died in 2019, members of his family said police initially told them he died due to injuries he sustained after crashing his car into a tree while being pursued by state troopers. Now recently released body camera footage of his arrests is contrasting what officers originally claimed to have happened.
The body camera footage obtained by the Associate Press shows Louisiana state troopers punching, dragging, and using a stun gun on the 49-year-old man.
Video of the arrest was withheld by authorities for 2 years but is now part of a federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Greene’s family.
The deadly encounter took place on May 10, 2019 after a police chase that led to Greene’s car crashing into a tree on a dark road outside the northern Louisiana city of Monroe.
So far the AP has only released three brief clips of the 46 minute video. In the clips state troopers can be seen repeatedly punching and kneeing Greene after dragging him out of his vehicle.
“OK, OK,” Greene is heard saying. “I’m sorry. I’m scared. Officer, I’m scared. I’m your brother. I’m scared.”
Troopers tase Greene multiple times while he is face down on the ground. Another trooper can be seen kicking green.
“I got blood all over me. I hope this guy ain’t got f—— AIDS,” one of the troopers is heard saying.
In one of the video clips, Trooper Kory York is can be seen dragging Greene by his feet as he is face down on the pavement with his hands cuffed behind him.
According to the AP, Greene was left lying face down moaning for more than nine minutes while officers used sanitizer wipes to wash his blood off their hands and faces. This is not in nay of the video clips the AP has posted online.
State Police didn’t investigate Greene’s death for more than a year, saying at the time the troopers’ use of force was justified. Ranking officials described the encounter as being “awful but lawful.”
Trooper York was briefly suspended for dragging Greene and for turning off his body camera. According to police records, York turned his own body camera off as he was on the way to the scene, however he can be seen and heard on another officers body camera.
Former Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth was fired after he was heard on his body-camera mic talking about beating and choking Greene before he “all of a sudden just went limp.”
“I beat the ever-living f— out of him,” the trooper said in a 27-second audio clip obtained by The Associated Press.
“Choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Hollingsworth is heard saying.
“We finally got him in handcuffs when a third man got there, and the son of a b—– was still fighting him, was still wrestling with him trying to hold him down,” he said. “He was spitting blood everywhere and all of a sudden he just went limp.”
Hollingsworth died in a single-car crash in September of last year just hours after learning he had been fired over his role in the incident.
Trooper DeMoss was later arrested for alleged excessive use of force regarding a separate police pursuit.
Greene’s daughter filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit in May 2020. The suit, which was filed against seven law enforcement officers, said that Greene was “brutalized by Louisiana State Police and Union Parish Deputy Officers which caused his death.” The lawsuit also alleged that officers “used lethal force” against him.
The first mention of a physical encounter with police came when Greene’s in-custody death was investigated by the Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigations Division.
“Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and a struggle with Troopers,” the report said. “A short time later Greene became unresponsive and was transported to Glenwood Medical Center by Pafford Medical Service.”
He died on the way to the hospital, the report said.
Before the investigation, Greene’s family said they were told he died in the car crash. According to the lawsuit, once officer told Greene’s mother he was immediately killed after hitting a tree.
According to the lawsuit, the initial report from Glenwood Medical Center listed the principal cause of Greene’s death as cardiac arrest. The report also stated he had an “unspecified injury of head,” according to the lawsuit.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards allowed Greene’s family to see the footage last year but it wasn’t released to the public because of the ongoing investigation.
“They murdered him. It was set out, it was planned,” Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, said Wednesday. “He didn’t have a chance. Ronnie didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t going to live to tell about it.”