La. state senator, Ronald Greene’s mother monitoring case developments
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields says he will, “wait and see” what other developments come out of a federal probe into the 2019 death of Ronald Greene.
“There’s a lot that is yet to be known,” said Fields, who also serves on a state senate committee formed for Louisiana State Police (LSP) oversight. “Quite frankly, I’m going to wait and see what else comes out, if anything.”
Fields spoke to WAFB one day after reporters revealed a text message sent to Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA), just hours after Greene died in police custody.
The text comes from a contact saved with the first name Kevin and the last initial R. At the time, Kevin Reeves served as superintendent for Louisiana State Police.
“A violent, lengthy struggle took place,” states the message. It also shows someone responding, “Thank you” from Edwards’ phone.
For nearly two years, investigators said Greene’s death happened because his car crashed in a high-speed chase. But, the text appears to show they knew that account was possibly untrue.
The governor is now in the spotlight because he did not publicly refute those claims from investigators.
A spokesperson in Edwards’ office told the Associated Press, “the governor does not direct disciplinary or criminal investigations,” and said it would not be appropriate for him to do so.
Fields said it is the responsibility of state leaders to do what they can to get the case resolved.
“Obviously the governor has a responsibility, and we as lawmakers have a responsibility, but more importantly we all hold a deep responsibility to this family,” said Fields. “This mother was told that her child was killed by a single-car accident and we all now know that was not the case. This family needs closure. This mother has suffered long enough.”
Greene’s mother spoke to WAFB Friday, Jan. 28. She said the latest developments fueled feelings that the case was being brushed aside to prevent negative press.
“There’s no way you can pretty up these words. It was horrific. It was known by all. By all,” said Mona Hardin, Greene’s mother. “I tend to go back to when I first met the governor and all Louisiana officials. I just remember how they received me. This was at the viewing of Ronnie’s video, and how they were so sorry, they were going to do their best to uncover and because things are in the beginning stages of the investigations, all those words popped up. But, I knew it was a lie. I knew it back then. It wasn’t heartfelt, I felt that.”
At the time, in 2019, Edwards was in the middle of a close re-election race.
Eugene Collins, an advocate working with Greene’s Family, said he hopes to hear Edwards confirm that his political agenda didn’t motivate his initial silence surrounding the case.
“The way this state has treated that family, it’s just downright disrespectful,” said Collins. “Just looks like the governor chose politics over transparency in this case. That is what it seems like. If that’s not the case, I really want to hear from our governor what it was.”
Edwards later acknowledged missteps taken by LSP during the deadly encounter.
The Associated Press reported that FBI agents questioned people about how much Edwards knew about the case, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.
“Investigators have focused in part on an influential lawmaker saying the governor downplayed the need for a legislative inquiry,” according to the report. The report goes on to say agents wanted to know more about a conversation between Edwards and Louisiana House speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-LA).
“Schexnayder said this week that the governor told him there was no need for further action from the legislature because ‘Greene died in a wreck.’ The speaker said he never moved forward with the investigation to avoid interfering with the federal probe,” the report states. “The governor’s spokesperson acknowledged he briefed the legislative leadership on his “understanding of the Greene investigation” and said his remarks were consistent with his public statements.”
Schexnayder did not return attempts to verify that reporting. A spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Department also could not be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for Edwards’ office told WAFB the text message was a “standard communication. She also said Edwards is not under investigation by the FBI.
The U.S. attorney who oversaw part of a civil rights probe into the case said Edwards never tried to influence the investigation.
Greene’s death occurred in May of 2019. Officials said he refused to pull over for a traffic stop and led troopers on a chase across northern Louisiana.
The chase ended when Greene’s vehicle crashed into a tree, documents state.
Video of the encounter with law enforcement after Greene was restrained, was withheld for more than two years.
It shows members of law enforcement beating, kicking, and dragging a handcuffed Greene while he was face down on the ground.
At one point Greene is hit with a stun gun and threatened that he would get more if he did not cooperate.
“I’m scared. I’m scared,” yelled Greene.
The beating was so brutal that some of the troopers can be heard on the video complaining about it as they cleaned blood from their hands.
The new head of LSP, Col. Lamar Davis, said he’s committed to resolving the case and disciplining any troopers who operated outside of LSP’s policies.
Several probes are underway into the troopers involved in Greene’s arrest. It’s unclear when findings from the case will be presented to a federal grand jury.
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