Louisiana governor denies reports he tried to hide or influence investigation into Ronald Greene death in custody

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By Nick Valencia, Maria Cartaya and Christina Maxouris, CNN

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Tuesday called the actions of state troopers involved in the death of Ronald Greene ‘criminal’ and dismissed a recent report alleging he deliberately failed to report the forgeries state police accounts of the death.

Greene, a 49 year old black man, died in 2019 after what police described as resisting arrest and a struggle with officers. However, his family said they learned Greene died in a car crash after a police chase, CNN previously reported.

Videos of the incident were not released for two years after Greene’s death. It showed Greene being shocked, kicked and punched by Louisiana State Police officers before dying in their custody.

“not worthy to wear one, when they are not committed to serving and protecting the public.

“I can’t imagine that, if Mr. Greene had been white, he would have been treated this way,” the governor added.

Edwards’ press conference came in response to an article by The Associated Press suggesting the governor kept quiet for two years — which included a politically sensitive period when he was running for re-election — about what he knew happened during the night of May 10, 2019, when Greene is dead.

In a statement to CNN, the AP said it stood by its reporting. In an article, the point of sale says it has documentation to show that federal investigators questioned people about what the governor knew about the case.

The Justice Department, which is investigating Greene’s death, said in a press release this week that reports suggesting the FBI questioned people “about Edwards’ knowledge of certain facts” were inaccurate.

Edwards beat his Republican challenger Eddie Rispone by winning 51% in a second round on November 16, 2019.

At Tuesday’s press conference, the governor took a defiant tone and repeatedly denied ever misleading anyone about Greene’s death in a car crash before the videos were released, saying anyone who said it was as well as Greene was dead was “obviously” lying.

The governor added that neither he nor his office had ever attempted to hide or interfere with any part of the investigation into Greene’s death, saying that “goes beyond every ounce of my being, of every ounce of my character and my principles”.

Edwards said Tuesday that after the incident, he was told by then-state police superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves in a May 2019 text that a suspect had died as a result. of a police chase and a “violent and long struggle” and which the LSP was investigating.

Edwards said he didn’t see video of the incident until October 2020. And when he did, he didn’t characterize the footage until it was made public, because the department of Justice told him that this could hamper their investigation.

“Obviously anyone who has seen the videos will see that Mr. Greene did not die in a car accident. The initial message I received did not say that he died in a car accident and if anyone anyone said that before, it was just plain wrong,” Edwards said. “I never said Mr. Greene died in a car accident.”

“What I’ve always said is that the cause of death is obviously part of the investigation and state and federal prosecutors have to make the decision based on the evidence they have,” he said. -he declares.

When asked by a reporter why the governor allowed state police to claim that Greene died in a car accident, Edwards dismissed the assumption that he was “allowing” any story.

“I disagree that I allowed this to happen,” the governor said. “If this happened… by people who knew better and were saying something wrong, then it needs to be addressed. This cannot be tolerated.

An attorney representing the Greene family told CNN they are not responding to the governor’s remarks due to a gag order on the case.

Earlier Tuesday, the governor also met with the Legislative Black Caucus to discuss the AP report. Edwards was “very receptive” and “felt things could have been done much better” than they were, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Vincent Pierre told CNN.

No one has been charged in Greene’s death.

Greene’s family also filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the state troopers involved in his death, as well as their superiors, seeking damages for payment of all medical and funeral expenses.

The soldiers involved maintained that Greene’s death “was caused by blunt chest trauma related to an accident which resulted in a fractured sternum and ruptured aorta” and argued that they had to use force to restrain him “for their own personal safety and for the safety of the public,” according to court documents.

One of the soldiers involved in Greene’s arrest, Dakota DeMoss, received a letter of counsel and a letter of reprimand, according to the LSP. He was fired for an unrelated incident of excessive force, CNN reported Last year. CNN contacted a DeMoss attorney.

Kory York, another soldier involved in the May 2019 incident, received a 50 hour suspension for his role, according to the LSP. After serving his suspension, he returned to active duty pending the outcome of the review by federal and state authorities. A lawyer for the soldier declined to comment when contacted by CNN.

Private Chris Hollingsworth, also involved, was to be fired for violations regarding body-worn cameras and car camera systems, use of force, performance, lawful orders and for conduct unbecoming an officer . But he died in a car accident before he could be fired, Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis said last year. CNN has also reached out to a Hollingsworth attorney for comment regarding the governor’s remarks.

A fourth officer, Lieutenant John Clary, was not disciplined due to insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation that he intentionally withheld video evidence, according to the LSP. He remains on active duty. CNN contacted an attorney for Clary.

Louisiana State Trooper Carl Cavalier, who was not involved in Greene’s arrest, accused colleagues involved in Greene’s death of murder and an alleged internal cover-up, was notified last year he would be fired.

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