NEW ORLEANS – On Thursday, the Associated Press released footage of Louisiana state troopers stunning, punching, and dragging a Black man to death after he apologized for leading them on a high-speed chase.
The bodycam footage, obtained by the AP two years after authorities had refused to release it, shows Ronald Greene telling the white officers “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” – as they repeatedly jolted him with a stun gun before he was even taken out of his car.
Greene failed to pull over for an unspecified traffic violation shortly after midnight on May 10, 2019, about 30 miles south of the Arkansas state line, the body cam footage started around that time.
During the 46 minute clip, one trooper is shown wrestling Greene to the ground while another officer called him a “stupid motherf—–” as the first trooper put Greene in a chokehold and is punching him in the face. Greene is heard repeatedly apologizing as he received another stun gun shock to his back; another trooper was shown dragging Greene facedown with his legs shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back. While Greene was left immobilized, facedown, and moaning on the ground for over nine minutes, the troopers used sanitizer wipes to wash his blood off their face and hands; one trooper is heard saying, “I hope this guy ain’t got f—— AIDS”.
Louisiana State Police declined to comment on the matter, but released a statement saying the following:
“(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.”
Initially, State Police brass argued that the troopers’ use of force was justified and didn’t open an administrative investigation until 474 days after Greene’s death. At least six troopers were on the scene but only three were named: troopers Dakota DeMoss, Chris Hollingsworth, and Kody York. York was suspended 50 hours without pay for dragging Greene and improperly deactivating his body camera; DeMoss was arrested last year after a separate incident in which he and two other officers allegedly used excessive force while handcuffing a motorist, Hollingsworth died in a single-car highway crash hours after learning he would be fired for his role in the Greene incident.
An attorney for the Greene family, Lee Merritt, said the footage “has some of the same hallmarks of the George Floyd video, the length of it, the sheer brutality of it” while adding, “he apologized in an attempt to surrender.”
Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, was a bit harsher in her remarks.
“They murdered him. It was set out, it was planned,” Hardin said to reporters on Wednesday. “He didn’t have a chance. Ronnie didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t going to live to tell about it.”
The Union Parish Coroner’s office initially ruled Greene’s death due to a car crash, making no mention of the scuffle with State Police. However, in an interview with AP last year, Union Parish Coroner Renee Smith said his death was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest (she was not in office at the time the determination was made). A medical report was also obtained showing that Greene arrived dead at the hospital with bruises and two stun-gun prongs in his back, leading doctors to question the troopers initial account that he “died on impact” after crashing into a tree.
Greene’s family has filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit alleging troopers “brutalized” Greene, and “left him beaten, bloodied and in cardiac arrest” before covering up the cause of death. His family has released graphic photographs of Greene’s body on a gurney, showing deep bruises and cuts on his face and head.
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation’s Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women’s basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, “The Triple Double”. A self-described “foodaholic”, Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, “Conscious Cravings”, where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.