“We have a fight on our hands” said Dinelle Hardin, the sister of Ronald Greene, who died at the hands of police in a brutal beating on May 10, 2019.
Greene’s family has been on a long winding road while seeking justice, however, within the last few weeks the investigation into Greene’s death has gained momentum.
According to police, in May 2019, Greene, 49, was pulled over by Louisiana State Police for a traffic stop, but Greene sped away, leading troopers on a 20-mile-high speed chase. Once police caught up with Greene to arrest him is where the controversy begins and the official narrative as told by police conflicts with body camera video which took two years to be made public after first being leaked to The Associated Press.
The bodycam video shows police approaching Greene, who was still sitting in his car, yelling for him to show his hands, and that’s when the video shows one of the officers tase Greene.
Another video shows Greene pinned down on the ground in a chokehold applied by one officer as another officer continues to shock him in the back with a stun gun before another officer comes into the frame and strikes Greene on his side. Another camera angle shows a trooper dragging Greene by his ankle across the ground as Greene anguished in pain. Greene died enroute to the hospital that same night.
More than a year after the brutal beating, Greene’s family finally saw the video. “Once I saw Ron had the bruises on his face, to see my brother at his very last moments alive, I still can’t believe that was him on the video,” Greene’s sister, Dinelle Hardin said. “I remember my sister Alana telling me, ‘They murdered Ron,’” Hardin went on to say.
Mona Hardin, Ronald Greene’s mother, says the trauma associated with her son’s death still haunts the family. “There’s no such thing as continuing on with your life when it happens to you, it totally gutted my family, it hurt us to the core,” Mona Hardin said.
Since Greene’s death, an investigation into how he died raised more questions than answers as state police first claimed he died when his car crashed, then they later changed their story saying he got into a struggle with police.
Greene’s family first saw the damaged car after the fact, they started doubting the police official story of what happened. “When we did go there, we were able to see the car and we saw the car that was not damaged and this angel that was there, this whistleblower or whoever,” Mona Hardin said, referring to Carl Cavalier, the fired state trooper who spoke out after Greene’s death.
After viewing the body camera their suspicions grew, and although one of the officers involved was fired, no criminal charges have been filed, the length of time it took to release the bodycam video and details of what happened led the family to believe a cover-up was underway.
On Feb. 1, Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, said in a near hour-long press conference, “there are implications that I knew more or one of my staff members tried to cover-up what happened, I will say that is categorically false” the governor said. Edwards denied any involvement in the lack of criminal charges and went on to say, “I will never do anything to impede or impair an investigation.”
Just a day before on Jan. 31, the FBI, which is also investigating Greene’s case said, “The investigation has been comprehensive and those conducting the investigation have followed all credible leads. … While the investigation continues, recent reporting citing sources suggesting that the FBI has questioned people about the awareness of certain facts by Governor John Bel Edwards is inaccurate.”
“I hope for the fact that there’s so much heat, before they even think twice about continuing on with this cover-up, they’ll put the brakes on it,” Mona Hardin said of mounting pressure on Greene’s investigation.
On Thursday, Republican Louisiana Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder announced a bipartisan select committee to “review the handling, on all levels, of the Ronald Greene incident … to assist members, the family and the public in understanding what happened and help the state move forward.”
Greene’s family says they understand politicians involved in the select committee may have an agenda but are remaining cautiously optimistic. “I’m feeling very hopeful change is coming to the state of Louisiana and I feel like it’s [select committee] is a great start,” Greene’s sister, Alana Wilson said.
Atlanta Black Star was sent a statement by the Louisiana State Police on the Greene investigation, and a spokesperson said in part, “Over the last 16 months, our agency has worked tirelessly to regain the trust of our citizens, our law enforcement partners, our political leaders, and the men and women of our agency.
The actions of these Troopers are under federal investigation and are not in any way condoned by our agency, its policies, nor the law. This is evident in our actions to move forward with investigations against our own personnel resulting in criminal charges and/or administrative discipline.”
“We have taken great strides in amending policies such as banning chokeholds, banning the use of impact weapons to the head and neck, instituting a duty to intervene policy, and defining and increasing accountability for supervisors to review, track, and report excessive force incidents,” the statement continued.
Despite the long arduous road to justice, Greene’s family remains unwavering. “They’re not going to get away with this,” Greene’s mother said.
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