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Violent arrests by LSP to go before grand jury soon, attorneys say

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 3:10 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The violent and deadly arrest of Ronald Greene at the hands of Louisiana State Police troopers could go before a grand jury in the next few months according to the Greene family legal team.

Attorney Lee Merritt represents Greene’s family members. He says investigators hope to wrap up their probe of Greene’s death in the next three months.

“The case is going to go before a grand jury at the completion of the investigation and it is our understanding that they are speeding towards the completion of the investigation in the next 60 to 90 days,” said Merritt.

The case would then be introduced to a grand jury which will decide if enough evidence exists to introduce formal charges against the troopers involved.

State troopers pulled Greene over after he led them on a high-speed chase for miles in rural Union Parish. Troopers first told the man’s family Greene died due after crashing his vehicle during the chase.

Body camera video of the arrest showed Greene alive after the crash, and later kicked, beaten, and shocked with a stun gun multiple times by troopers.

Greene later died.

Attorney Ron Haley represents a different man allegedly beaten by state troopers, Aaron Bowman. Haley says he was advised Bowman case would also go before a grand jury by summer’s end.

Court records show Aaron Bowman was beaten by a trooper in Monroe in a different traffic stop. A trooper allegedly used a flashlight to smack bowman on his head and jab him in his side 18 times in 24 seconds.

Bowman spoke at a rally last week, saying he’s still suffering from the incident.

“Since that happened to me, I think, but I can’t think,” said Bowman. “It’s like I think about something, and it disappears.”

While investigators work to wrap up those cases, Merritt says a larger federal investigation into LSP’s policing practices is underway.

“It’s important that the FBI cast its net wide and deal with the systemic issues and the system of brutality within the Louisiana State Police department,” said Merritt. “We need to reimagine policing throughout the country, and one of the deadliest forces within our nation is Louisiana State Police.”

Merritt says part of reimagining policing here in Louisiana is removing LSP’s involvement in use of force investigations in other law enforcement agencies.

Smaller agencies like the Baton Rouge Police Department form agreements with LSP to investigate fatal shootings involving its officers. Merritt considers allowing those agreements to continue, “absurd” and “the epitome of an ineffective system.”

“I stop short of saying the Louisiana State Police apparatus should be disbanded, because we understand there is some need for policing in the state of Louisiana,” said Merritt. “But they shouldn’t be responsible for upholding character of the other police departments. That is a recipe for disaster.”

Calls for a federal probe into trooper behavior have grown louder in the past months. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU) on Thursday, June 17, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland to call on the Department of Justice to act.

Merritt says the involvement of the feds in LSP investigations should continue past these cases.

“I think it would be best, specifically for the Louisiana State Police to have federal oversight in general, or some sort of oversight body be created for the review of their use of force and for their patterns and practices which at this point are clearly, at best, unconstitutional,” said Meritt. “I think that’s best practice around the country.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice could not be immediately reached when called Thursday.

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