Within days of Ronald Greene’s deadly arrest in 2019, when body camera video captured white police officers stunning, beating and dragging the black motorist, the chief of the Louisiana State Police wrote a blunt note on the case. in his diary: “Realize there is a problem, it needs to be addressed immediately.”
But it was more than a year, 462 days to be exact, before Colonel Kevin Reeves even opened an internal investigation into the actions of the soldiers involved, including one who was recorded boasting that he “beat the eternal f” . asterisk)k from” Greene.
Eleven pages from Reeves’ three journals were released Thursday in response to a subpoena from a legislative committee investigating a possible cover-up in the case. And the chairman of the panel says the troubling questions raised by those few pages were enough to demand that Reeves comply and turn over all of his diaries, with the threat of contempt charges if he doesn’t.
“The documents themselves show that Colonel Reeves knew from the beginning there was a problem and considered possible steps to address it, but ultimately failed to do so,” said Republican state Rep. Tanner Magee. “This committee has tried to find out why.”
While the handwritten pages are in hard-to-decipher places, a page of notes dated just 12 days after Greene’s death are clear, a to-do list of possible actions in response to the case: suspend officers or put them on administrative leave, opening an internal investigation and conducting a video audit of Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who bragged about beating Greene and had a history of turning off his body camera video.
Reeves’ attorney, Lewis Unglesby, said the delays in Greene’s case “are absolutely not up to Kevin Reeves,” saying it fell to his subordinates to get to the bottom of what happened. “There’s a difference between ‘This is what I want all of you to do’ and ‘I’m going to do it.’
Greene’s death on May 10, 2019 has been shrouded in secrecy and allegations of a cover-up from the beginning, when authorities told grieving relatives and released initial reports that the 49-year-old died in a late-car crash. of a high-speed chase near Monroe.
Last year, The Associated Press obtained long-hidden body camera video that showed what really happened: cops breaking into Greene’s car, repeatedly stunning him, hitting him in the head, dragging him by ankle shackles and leaving him stranded. on the ground for more than nine minutes. At times, Greene could be heard begging for mercy and lamenting, “I’m your brother! I am scared! I am scared.”
As the third anniversary of Greene’s death approaches, despite a federal civil rights investigation, a separate state criminal investigation, and legislative investigation, no charges of any kind have yet been filed.
The bipartisan legislative committee was formed in February in response to an AP report that Reeves told Gov. John Bel Edwards within hours that the soldiers who arrested Greene had engaged in “protracted and violent fighting.” Yet the Democrat remained largely silent on the case for two years as state police continued to float the car accident theory, which was later debunked by a new FBI-commissioned autopsy.
For weeks, the eight-member legislative panel has been interviewing state police and other officials in an attempt to piece together the agency’s handling of the case. Last week, a top state police official told lawmakers he was “baffled” that no police officers had yet faced criminal charges. Another high-ranking official described Greene’s fatal arrest as “a total disregard for the sanctity of human life.”
Lawmakers have said they intend to investigate what Edwards knew and when he knew it, but no one on his staff has yet been called to testify.