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5 Louisiana Officers Charged in 2019 Death of Black Driver

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More than three years after Ronald Greene died in Louisiana police custody, five law enforcement officers were charged in connection with a violent encounter videotaped Thursday. . When he screamed for help, he was repeatedly beaten by police officers.

The indictment includes one count of manslaughter against one of five police officers, according to Greene’s family’s officials and lawyers.

The indictment comes to light for the first time in a case that mobilized activists and drew extensive scrutiny from state police as the first explanation that Mr. Green resisted arrest after a high-speed chase was uncovered by body camera footage. . video, Obtained by the Associated Press, showed Mr. Green, 49, yelling “Scary!” When a white police officer repeatedly stuns with a taser.

“They need to be held accountable,” Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, told reporters on Thursday after the charges were announced, optimistic that the charges should be successful and followed up. “Otherwise, you’re condoning the murder of Ronald Greene. If it’s just a slap on the wrist, I’m okay with my son being killed.”

State troopers said on Thursday that two officers were on leave pending charges. indicted for a serious crime. (The York Police Department had previously reinstated him on active duty after serving a 50-hour suspension.) Another of his, Lt. John Clary, has been charged with misconduct and obstruction of justice. was the highest-ranking police officer on the scene.

Two other State Police officers, Trooper Dakota Demos and Captain John Peters, were charged with obstruction of justice. Union Parish Deputy Sheriff Christopher Harpin is also named in the indictment and charged with three counts of his misconduct in public office.

Trooper Demos took leave last year after he and three other troopers were arrested in a separate incident in which he and three other troopers were charged with using excessive force and deactivating body cameras during arrests. rice field.

The five officers charged Thursday and their attorneys were not immediately available for comment. told the Associated Press Thursday night, they expected their client to be acquitted if their case went to trial.

Another officer involved in the arrest, Chris Hollingsworth, died in a one-car crash on a highway in 2020. At the time, the Associated Press reported that he had been given hours notice that he would be fired for his involvement in Mr. Green’s fatal arrest. .

“Today’s indictment follows a thorough and extensive investigation by state and federal agencies,” said Col. Lamar A. Davis, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, in a statement Thursday. “Excessive use of force threatens public safety and is dangerous to our communities. These actions are intolerable and no place for professional public safety services.”

Green, of Monroe, Louisiana, was pulled over by state troopers in Union Parish, east of Shreveport, in northern Louisiana, just after midnight on May 10, 2019. Authorities initially said Greene was being chased by police for a traffic violation, refused to stop and resisted arrest. His death was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest by the Union Parish Coroner.

Two years later, the Associated Press released body camera footage, which showed an entirely different version of events. The video shows Mr. Green beaten, restrained in a chokehold, handcuffed, and prone for over nine minutes. An independent autopsy was requested by his family, which revealed that he had suffered a severe skull injury and a scar on his face.

The harrowing footage brought the Greene case, which initially received little attention, to national attention. That’s because tensions have risen in recent years over a string of high-profile cases in which a black man died in an encounter with police.

The increased attention has led to a tangle of duplicate investigations at the state and federal levels.state legislature convened a special committee Investigate cases and their handling by state police and elected officials. In 2020, federal agents launched a civil rights investigation. In June, the Justice Department announced it had launched a broader investigation into the Louisiana State Police into accusations of officers engaging in abusive and discriminatory behavior.

Col. Davis said Thursday that the incident has already spurred “fundamental improvements in our operations, training and management” within the State Police.

The case was brought before a grand jury in November by Union Parish District Attorney John Belton. Belton said federal prosecutors had no objection to his proceeding with the case.

“This is a victory and we’re going to take it — and we’re grateful for it,” Megan Matt, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Louisiana, said at a news conference Thursday. stood by her and said . . Hardin and other relatives. “But we will continue to relentlessly pursue accountability for these officers and everyone involved in these crimes.”

Still, Matt said Green’s death left a painful void in his family. It was especially noticeable as Christmas approached. Mr. Green, a barber, was stopped by police on his way to see his wife in Florida.And he reportedly went into remission after battling cancer 2 years.

“For three and a half years, this has been their life,” said family attorney Ron Haley. “Their sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, nephews and friends have received justice.”

State Legislator C. Denise Marcelle applauded the charges but said the blame extends beyond the police. “I don’t want to end up with five,” she said at a press conference.

“We want to get to the root of everyone involved in this cover-up,” said Marcel, a Democrat from Baton Rouge who is on the task force investigating Mr. Green’s death. “We have to jump into this and clean the house.”

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