Five Louisiana State Troopers pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in the 2019 death of Ronald Greene, a Black man who died in police custody after being brutally assaulted and tased during his arrest. Initially, police blamed Greene’s death on a car crash until body camera footage from the brutal attack showed officers beating Greene as he screamed for help.
Tuesday’s arraignment comes nearly five months after the five officers were indicted and charged with a host of charges ranging from negligent homicide to obstruction and malfeasance.
During court proceedings, the officers denied any wrongdoing, while Greene’s family called for justice in his death. No trial date has been set in the case as of yet, but officers are due back in court next month.
Charged in the case are four current and former Louisiana State Police troopers and one Union Parish sheriff’s deputy who responded to Greene’s arrest. Facing the most serious charges, including negligent homicide, is 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 facedown in the dirt for more than nine minutes.
The others who face various counts of malfeasance and obstruction include a lieutenant 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?”
In 2021, Ronald Greene’s family lawyer civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, shared bodycam footage of a supervisor arriving at the scene on the night of May 10, 2019, encouraging the officers by telling them “they did a good job,” while they electrocuted, beat and dragged the 49-year-old Black man to his death outside of the city of Monroe.
That video’s release came about a week after the Associated Press obtained a 46-minute clip and released the bodycam footage to the public.
Greene was stopped for an unspecified traffic violation and refused to stop, which prompted a pursuit by police.
“Officer, I am scared. I’m your brother. I’m scared,” Greene can be heard saying in one of the clips. An officer then places Greene in a chokehold and punches him in the face while another officer calls him a “stupid m———-r.” Greene is then tased repeatedly and beaten. At one point the state troopers use sanitary wipes to clean their hands covered in blood.
“I hope this guy ain’t got f—–g AIDS,” one trooper says.
Greene’s family filed a federal wrongful suit in an effort to secure justice after urging for transparency around the case in what appeared to be a massive coverup. The family claims law enforcement authorities told them Greene died in a car crash, while a local parish coroner ruled his death was accidental and the result of cardiac arrest.
State Police eventually released a one-page statement claiming that Greene died on his way to the hospital after engaging in a struggle with officers.
Greene’s death sparked an internal investigation of the Louisiana State Police to determine if officers are targeting Black motorists in the state.
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