A Louisiana trooper who bashed a Black man’s head with a flashlight and tased and punched him during a fatal arrest portrayed himself as a victim to investigators, according to newly released audio.
Louisiana Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth bragged about beating “the ever-living f—-” of Ronald Greene in 2019. More than a year later, he told internal affairs he did it because he feared for his life as a video of the incident looped in the background.
“I was scared,” Hollingsworth during the two-hour recorded interrogation interview made public by The Associated Press. “He could have done anything once my hold was broke off him — and that’s why I struck him.”
Investigators grilled him about the apparent inconsistencies.
Hollingsworth was among a group of troopers captured on body camera video beating and dragging a bloodied Greene until he went limp.
State police initially told Greene’s family that he died in a car crash until state police released the footage in 2020. During the violent arrest, Greene pleaded with the troopers, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I am scared.”
Greene’s family has accused authorities of repeated cover-ups.
No one has been charged for Greene’s injuries and death sustained in the May 2019 arrest. However, it has prompted a federal investigation and legislative review. Hollingsworth’s September 2020 internal affairs interview could not be used to prosecute him.
He died in a single-person car crash into a guardrail six days later after learning he was fired.
“I wasn’t trying to use deadly force against him,” Hollingsworth told investigators in an edited AP video featuring snippets of the interview. “I only wanted to free my arm.”
That was a far cry from what Hollingsworth told another officer on the phone after the arrest. The call was answered picked up on his body camera that he reportedly tried to withhold from investigators. At some point, Hollingsworth also turned off the camera.
“I beat the ever-living f— out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Hollingsworth said with his uniform dappled with Greene’s blood. “All of a sudden he just went limp. … I thought he was dead.”
Greene reportedly died en route to the hospital.
Internal affairs questioned Hollingsworth about his use of a flashlight and stun gun during the arrest.
“Chris, did you have an object in your hand,” one of the investigators asked the trooper.
“Can we rewind the video and look,” Hollingsworth said. “I could’ve my flashlight in my hand.”
The investigators also asked the trooper his reason for using force in the first place.
“According to this video, at least according to us, it doesn’t appear that you never gave him a chance to get out of the car,” one of the detectives said. “I mean, you pretty much run up to the window, and within a second or two, you tase him. How come?”
“I was in fear that he was going to hurt myself or Trooper [Dakota] DeMoss,” Hollingsworth said.
“Was he doing anything to indicate that he was going to fight you, gonna try to punch you?” the detective asked.
“He was in control of the vehicle,” Hollingsworth said.
“I understand that. Was he pressing on the gas? Was the car accelerating?” The detective asked.
Greene’s sister, Dinelle Hardin, told CNN the new developments made her angry.
“It pisses me off to know that we have the video of him stating those words, beating Ron senselessly,” she said. “No one stepped in to stop him and three years later, no arrests have been made.”
Medical examiners ruled Hollingsworth’s death an accident, but crash reconstruction experts and others suspect suicide. Hollingsworth was a state police driving instructor, and he was sober when he crashed on the highway without a seatbelt.
“It’s definitely consistent with a suicide, but I don’t have enough information to say he didn’t fall asleep,” Jonathan Cherney, a California-based crash reconstructionist, told the AP. “But I’ll tell you what, you have a hard time falling asleep when you’re doing 100 miles per hour.”
The trooper’s death has reportedly prolonged the investigations into Greene’s in-custody death. It has made Greene’s mother leery about finding justice for her son. Mona Hardin told a legislative panel on March 17 that she has not been able to grieve her son while she waits for closure in the case.
Hollingsworth is considered to be the trooper most responsible for the fatal incident.
“It hurts me to the core that Hollingsworth isn’t here,” Hardin told reporters. “He was front and center, and they gave him all the bells and whistles on his burial. … They overlooked what he did, what he confessed to.”