Ronald Greene’s Mother Calls for Troopers to Be Charged in His Death

For two years, Mona Hardin has watched with anguish as the state of Louisiana controlled the narrative of how her son Ronald Greene died.

Now, however, the release of body camera footage showing white Louisiana state troopers using a stun gun on Mr. Greene, who was Black, and dragging and punching him after a high-speed chase has presented a version of events starkly different from the one initially offered by the authorities.

On Thursday, Ms. Hardin joined national and regional civil rights leaders in calling for the troopers involved in her son’s death to be fired and face criminal charges.

If the authorities in Louisiana established control over the story of her son’s death, “they also control the narrative of how this will end,” she said.

“We need someone to be arrested,” Ms. Hardin said at a virtual news conference. “We need them to be indicted. We didn’t come all this way just for an offer, just to let everyone else lie. It’s so inhumane, it’s unbelievable.”

If there is no accountability, she said, deaths similar to her son’s will “just continue, and everyone will be back in the same position that we all are in now — change the mothers, change the families.”

In a letter sent Thursday to Col. Lamar A. Davis, the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, the National Urban League and the Urban League of Louisiana called for the firing and arrest of Lt. John Clary and Troopers Kory York and Dakota DeMoss and “any other officers involved in the car chase, arrest, and death of Ronald Greene on May 10, 2019.”

Lt. Melissa Matey, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana State Police, said in a statement on Thursday that the troopers involved in Mr. Greene’s arrest “have already received internal discipline while awaiting the results of the federal review.”

“Louisiana State Police is confident in the judicial system and fair review of this incident and continues to offer our full cooperation,” Lieutenant Matey said.

Trooper York served a 50-hour suspension and has since returned to active duty, according to the State Police. In February, Trooper DeMoss was one of four state troopers who were arrested in an unrelated case, accused of using excessive force and deactivating their body cameras during arrests. The State Police said that it had notified him of its “intent to terminate” him and that he remained on leave “pending the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.”

Another trooper who was involved in Mr. Greene’s arrest, Chris Hollingsworth, died in a car crash in September 2020. The Associated Press reported that he had been notified hours earlier that he would be fired as a result of an internal police investigation into Mr. Greene’s death.

“It’s indefensible that two years after Robert Greene’s death not a single charge has been filed, and only one of the surviving troopers involved has faced any form of discipline,” Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive of the National Urban League, said Thursday. “The release of the tape makes this case perfectly clear.”

The F.B.I., the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana are investigating Mr. Greene’s death. Mr. Morial and Judy Reese Morse, president and chief executive of the Urban League of Louisiana, asked the Justice Department in a letter this week to broaden its investigation of Mr. Greene’s arrest to include a wider review of the Louisiana State Police.

After Mr. Greene’s death, his family was told he had died from injuries he suffered when his car crashed into tree. The State Police told them that he had failed to stop for a traffic violation and had then led troopers on a high-speed chase outside Monroe, La., according to a wrongful-death lawsuit that the family filed last year. A single-page crash report said that Mr. Greene had become unresponsive on his way to the hospital after he was taken into custody and struggled with troopers, The A.P. reported. The report did not mention any use of force by troopers.

The body camera footage obtained and published by The A.P. shows Mr. Greene saying, “I’m sorry” and “I’m scared” as he is being pulled out of his car, jolted with a stun gun and then wrestled to the ground. One trooper puts him in a chokehold and punches him in the face. Another trooper briefly drags him by his ankle shackles as he is lying on the ground, according to the footage.

The A.P. reported that the troopers had left Mr. Greene facedown and moaning for more than nine minutes as they wiped blood from their hands and faces.

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, who met with Ms. Hardin on Thursday, said he was “praying that ongoing investigations, which the state is cooperating with, will bring Mr. Greene’s family a measure of peace and justice.”

“The officers seen on the body cam footage of Mr. Greene’s arrest do not represent what we aspire to in the state of Louisiana,” Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Their actions were deeply unprofessional and incredibly disturbing.”

In the news conference, Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Mr. Greene’s family, echoed Ms. Hardin’s call for immediate accountability in the case, pushing back against those who say the family should “trust the process” and let the official investigations play out.

“Most who will make that statement seem to forget that the time has been running for over two years now — 747 days is where we are since the murder of Ronald Greene,” he said. “And cautioning the community or this family that this process takes time, it’s no longer an excuse that we’re willing to accept.”

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