I-TEAM: Legal analyst weighs in after five officers indicted in death of Ronald Greene
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Three years after the brutal beating death of Ronald Greene at the tail end of a traffic stop in Monroe, four Louisiana State Police troopers and a Union Parish Sheriff’s deputy have been indicted for their role in what happened. Among the charges are obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office, with the most serious charge being negligent homicide. The indictments are historic but the WAFB I-TEAM is asking if the charges went far enough.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked legal analyst Franz Borghardt if he believes the indictments that came down were appropriate.
”First, in looking at the videos, I think we can all agree something was going to happen and some kind of indictment that was going to come down,” said Borghardt. “So the question as to were these the appropriate ones… I think the prosecutors sought indictments on what they thought they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt which means under our legal system, they are appropriate.”Borghardt believes attorneys who worked to prosecute the case did just enough to secure what he considers was the best possible outcome from a legal standpoint.
“They didn’t overreach and I don’t think they went too far,” said Borghardt. “I think they did just what they should have done in terms of the facts, the law applying the two together and seeking justice.”
Each of the charges the officers face carries a penalty of about five years in prison if convicted and Borghardt believes getting a conviction will be easier in this case because of the damning evidence.
“So in this case, we have a video and a video that is very graphic in nature and shows real-time what happened. In addition to that, we have an allegation about a coverup. With the video, it’s a catalyst for a likely conviction in my mind,” Borghardt added.
Two of the troopers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the criminal case plays out but the ACLU of Louisiana came out strong Friday afternoon, calling for all of the officers indicted in the case to be terminated and stripped of their certification.
Meghan Matt, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Louisiana says it is important that the kind of behavior captured on the troopers’ body cameras never happens again.
“It’s important because the officers aren’t held accountable for their actions and so then they just leave and go somewhere else to continue to do the same thing again. They get to keep their jobs. They get to keep their pensions and their paychecks and they get to go out and continue to terrorize the people of Louisiana, especially Black and brown people in the state,” Matt said.
She believes what is even more troubling is the fact that it took an indictment for two of the troopers to be put on leave in the first place.
“For two of them to be placed on administrative leave which will be paid I am certain is absurd and disrespectful. We all saw the video so we can’t just all sit around and act like. I mean we know what we saw,” Matt added.
While the charges are serious, Borghardt says he does not think every officer who has been indicted will actually face time behind bars. He believes it is very likely some of them will try to work out a plea deal.
“I would say jail time is not necessarily a given and not necessarily an absolute in this case especially if some of these officers decide to step up and take responsibility,” Borghardt added.
Borghardt does believe the historic indictments will send a strong message to the community and to those who serve and protect.
“I think it says no matter who you are, the laws should be applied equally and when it’s not then it’s not justice, it’s something else,” he added.
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