Five Louisiana law enforcement officers were charged Thursday with state crimes ranging from negligent homicide to malfeasance in the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, a death authorities initially blamed on a car crash before long suppressed body-camera video showed white officers beating, stunning and dragging the Black motorist as he wailed, “I’m scared!” These are the first criminal charges of any kind to emerge from Greene’s bloody death on a roadside in rural northeast Louisiana, a case that got little attention until an Associated Press investigation exposed a cover-up and prompted scrutiny of top Louisiana State Police brass, a sweeping US Justice Department review of the agency and a legislative inquiry looking at what Gov. John Bel Edwards knew and when he knew it, the AP reports.
"We’re all excited for the indictments but are they actually going to pay for it?” said Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, who for more than three years has kept the pressure on state and federal investigators and vowed not to bury the cremated remains of her “Ronnie” until she gets justice. “As happy as we are, we want something to stick.” Facing the most serious charges from a state grand jury was Master Trooper Kory York, who was seen on the body-camera footage dragging Greene by his ankle shackles, putting his foot on his back to force him down and leaving the heavyset man face down in the dirt for more than nine minutes. Use-of-force experts say these actions could have dangerously restricted Greene’s breathing, and the state police’s own force instructor called the troopers’ actions “torture and murder.” York was charged with negligent homicide and 10 counts of malfeasance in office.
The others who faced various counts of malfeasance and obstruction included a trooper who denied the existence of his body-camera footage, another who exaggerated Greene’s resistance on the scene, a regional state police commander who detectives say pressured them not to make an arrest in the case and a Union Parish sheriff’s deputy heard on the video taunting Greene with the words “s—- hurts, doesn’t it?” “These actions are inexcusable and have no place in professional public safety services,” the head of the state police, Col. Lamar Davis, said after the indictments, adding that his agency has in recent years made improvements aimed at “rebuilding of trust within the communities we serve.” The US Justice Department is conducting a separate criminal investigation. (Much more on the case here.)