NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Body
camera video shows Louisiana
state troopers stunning, punching, and dragging a Black man as he apologizes for leading them on a high-speed chase, footage obtained by The Associated Press
after authorities refused to release it for two years.
“I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” Ronald Greene
can be heard telling the white troopers as the unarmed man is repeatedly jolted with a stun gun
before even getting out of his car on a dark, rural road.
Greene's arrest in 2019 outside Monroe, Louisiana, is the subject of a federal civil rights
investigation; however, unlike other in-custody deaths across the country where body camera video was released almost immediately, Greene's case has been shrouded in secrecy and accusations of a cover-up.
Troopers initially told Greene's family that he died on impact after crashing into a tree during the chase, but State Police
later released a one-page statement acknowledging only that Greene struggled with troopers and died on the way to the hospital.
The public can now see some of what happened during the arrest for the first time thanks to footage obtained by the AP from one trooper's body camera.
In the 46-minute video, one trooper is seen wrestling Greene to the ground, putting him in a chokehold, and punching him in the face, while another is heard calling him a "stupid motherf--."
Greene screams, "I'm sorry!" as another trooper shocks his backside with a stun gun and warns, "Look, you're going to get it again if you don't put your f-—- hands behind your back!" Another trooper can be seen briefly dragging the man facedown after his legs have been shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back.
Instead of assisting, the troopers leave the heavyset man unattended, facedown and moaning, for more than nine minutes while they use sanitizer wipes to clean blood from their hands and faces.
One of the troopers can be heard saying, "I hope this guy doesn't have f AIDS."
Greene reappears after a few minutes, limp, unresponsive, and bleeding from his head and face, and is loaded onto an ambulance gurney, his arm cuffed to the bedrail.
Greene is not visible in many parts of the video, and the trooper appears to cut the microphone off about halfway through, making it difficult to piece together exactly what was going on at all times. At least six troopers were present at the arrest, but not all of them were wearing body cameras.
“They murdered him. It was planned,” Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, said on Wednesday. “He didn’t have a chance. Ronnie didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t going to live to tell the tale.”
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Greene's family, said the video "has some of the same hallmarks as the George Floyd
video, in terms of length and sheer brutality."
Merritt described him as “apologizing in an attempt to surrender.”
The Louisiana State Police declined to comment on the video's content, saying that "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."
State Police brass initially argued the troopers' use of force was justified — "awful but lawful," as ranking officials put it — and did not launch an administrative investigation until 474 days after Greene died.
“Police departments must stop erecting roadblocks to information that is, in the public's opinion, questionable; they must reveal everything they know, when they know it,” said Andrew Scott, a former Boca Raton, Florida
, police chief who testifies as an expert witness
in use-of-force cases.
Scott said dragging the handcuffed man facedown by his ankle shackles was "malicious, sadistic, and completely unnecessary," even though Greene "was not without fault" and appeared to resist troopers' orders.
“That should never have happened,” he said, adding, “You've got the guy completely compromised, and he's not hurting anyone.”
Another use-of-force expert and former Baltimore police lieutenant, Charles Key, questioned the troopers' decision to leave Greene unattended, handcuffed, and prone for several minutes, calling it "just dead wrong."
“You don’t leave someone lying on the ground, especially after this fight,” Key explained. “The training has been for a number of years that, as soon as you have someone under control, you put them on their side to facilitate their breathing... and especially this guy, because he was very heavy.”
Last year, Gov. John Bel Edwards allowed Greene's family to see the same body camera footage and promised to release it to the public once the federal investigation was completed.
Greene's family has filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit
alleging that troopers "brutalized" Greene and "left him beaten, bloodied, and in cardiac arrest" before covering up the cause of death, and has released graphic photographs of Greene's body on a gurney, showing deep bruises and cuts on his face and head.
Greene, a barber, failed to stop for an unspecified traffic violation shortly after midnight on May 10, 2019, about 30 miles south of the Arkansas state line, and the video obtained by AP begins with Trooper Dakota DeMoss chasing Greene's SUV on rural highways at over 115 mph.
DeMoss issued a radio warning seconds before the chase ended, saying, "We have to do something. He's going to kill someone."
As DeMoss and Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth rush Greene's SUV, he appears to raise his hands and repeatedly say, "OK, OK. I'm sorry."
Within seconds, Hollingsworth shocks Greene with a stun gun through the driver's side window as both troopers demand he get out of the vehicle.
As the troopers wrestle Greene to the ground, one of them can be heard saying, "He's grabbing me," as they try to handcuff him. "Put your hands behind your back, bitch," one of the troopers says.
Hollingsworth repeatedly strikes Greene and appears to lie on one of his arms before handcuffing him.
Trooper Kory York yanks Greene's leg shackles and drags the man on his stomach for a brief moment, despite the fact that he is not resisting.
York was suspended without pay for 50 hours for dragging and improperly deactivating his body camera, which he claimed was beeping loudly and that his "mind was on other things."
In a separate recording obtained by AP, Hollingsworth can be heard telling a coworker that he "beat the ever-living f- out of" Greene.
“Choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Hollingsworth is overheard saying, “and all of a sudden he just went limp.”
Hollingsworth was killed in a single-car highway crash hours after learning he would be fired for his role in the Greene case.
Meanwhile, DeMoss was arrested last year in connection with a separate police pursuit in which he and two other troopers allegedly used excessive force while handcuffing a motorist.
Greene's death was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest by Union Parish Coroner Renee Smith last year. Smith, who was not in office at the time, said her office's file on Greene attributed his death to a car crash and made no mention of a struggle with State Police.
The Associated Press obtained a medical report last year that showed an emergency room doctor noting Greene arrived at the hospital dead, bruised and bloodied, with two stun-gun prongs in his back, prompting the doctor to question troopers' initial account that Greene had "died on impact" after crashing into a tree.
The doctor wrote, "Doesn't add up."