Louisiana Cops Beat The Crap Out Of Ronald Greene, And Then He Died
Ronald Greene was terrified and begging for his life, but Louisiana state troopers didn't appear to care. They jolted him repeatedly with a stun gun and then beat him bloody, dragging him around like hand-me-down luggage.
"I'm your brother! I'm scared! I'm scared!" Greene, who was Black, told the white troopers before he'd even gotten out of the car. Greene had reason to fear the officers, who were apparently his brothers only in the Cain and Abel sense. He'd failed to pull over for an unspecified traffic violation shortly after midnight on May 10, 2019. Trooper Dakota DeMoss chased Greene's SUV on rural highways at over 115 mph. DeMoss said on his radio: "We got to do something. He's going to kill somebody."
Greene didn't kill anyone that night. Newly surfaced bodycam footage -- after two years -- surely seems to indicate something killed Greene that night. It is a mystery!
From the AP:
As DeMoss and Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth rush Greene's SUV, he can be seen appearing to raise his hands and saying over and over, "OK, OK. I'm sorry."
Last week, the Associated Press obtained the 46-minute body camera footage, which confirms that Greene was apologetic and apparently surrendering before receiving a vicious beatdown. Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth fried Greene with a stun gun through the driver's side window as he and DeMoss demanded Greene exit the vehicle. Greene complied and was wrestled to the ground. One officer is heard claiming, “He's grabbing me!" which we guess is police code for “we can now proceed to pummel him." (Allegedly!)
Here is some video, it is awful:
Once on the ground, Greene was tased some more, and while he screamed in agony, a trooper barked, "Put your hands behind your back, bitch." Greene said, "I'm sorry!" but the trooper just shocked him again, warning, "Look, you're going to get it again if you don't put your fucking hands behind your back!"
Greene was put in a chokehold and punched in the face while one of at least six troopers on the scene called him “a stupid motherfucker." Hollingsworth whaled on Greene some more and appeared to lie on one of his arms before Greene was finally handcuffed.
But it didn't stop there. Trooper Kory York dragged Greene, who wasn't resisting, on his stomach by his leg shackles.
From what we can see in the video, no one bothered to render aid to the battered Greene. They left him facedown and moaning, while they used sanitizer wipes to wash Greene's blood off their hands and face.
"I hope this guy ain't got fucking AIDS," one of the troopers said, because it was 1985 in his dumb head.
Limp and unresponsive, bleeding from his head and face, Greene was loaded onto an ambulance gurney. His arm was cuffed to the bedrail although he probably wasn't going anywhere. He arrived dead at the hospital, bruised and bloodied with two stun-gun prongs in his back.
The police originally told Greene's family he died on impact after crashing into a tree during the chase. That was not true. There wasn't even a tree. The emergency doctor had even questioned this account: “Does not add up," the doctor wrote. The state police workshopped their story and released a one-page statement "acknowledging only that Greene struggled with troopers and died on his way to the hospital."
Greene's family sued the police for wrongful death last May, and federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into his death last fall. (That's right, whatever happened here rose to the level that even the Trump Justice Department for some reason felt compelled to open a civil rights investigation.) Louisiana State Police refused to release the body camera footage publicly for two years, claiming that releasing it would "undermine the investigative process into the incident." Is that what it would undermine?
York was suspended without pay for 50 whole hours for improperly dragging Greene and deactivating his body camera at one point. York claimed the device was "beeping loudly" and his "mind was on other things." In a just system, cops who intentionally tamper with their body cameras should lose their jobs on the spot.
Cops supposedly receive a lot of training but very little of it seems to cover how actual humans might react when violently beaten.
Hollingsworth, in a separate recording obtained by AP, can be heard telling a colleague at the office that "he beat the ever-living fuck out of" Greene.
"Choked him and everything else trying to get him under control," Hollingsworth is heard saying. "He was spitting blood everywhere, and all of a sudden he just went limp."
Greene's exact cause of death still remains unclear, thanks to all the apparent coverups. According to Union Parish Coroner Renee Smith, Greene's death was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest. (Sound familiar?) Smith wasn't in office when that determination was made, but she said Greene's file attributed his death to a car crash and didn't mention his struggle with the police.
Ronald Greene somehow died in police custody two years ago, and we still don't know what his exact traffic violation was. We do know he feared for his life. That wasn't irrational. Black people can't trust what will happen when the police stop them on a dark, empty road.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."