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Feds investigating death of Black man in Louisiana State Police custody: report

Feds investigating death of Black man in Louisiana State Police custody: report
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Federal authorities are investigating the death of a Black man last year during what Louisiana State Police described as a struggle to take him into custody, The Associated Press reported Monday. 

State police have declined to release body-camera footage related to the May 2019 chase north of Monroe ahead of Ronald Greene’s death, according to the AP. 

Greene’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year alleging state troopers “brutalized” Greene and “left him beaten, bloodied and in cardiac arrest” before covering up his actual cause of death, the AP reported. The lawsuit reportedly alleges officers pinned Greene to the ground and used a stun gun on him even after he apologized for leading them on a chase. 

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“This has gutted our family,” Greene’s mother Mona Hardin told the AP. “How do people live with themselves after doing something like this?”

Hardin said her family has not been able to grieve properly with so many questions unresolved. The family said authorities initially claimed Greene died after crashing into a tree but omitted what State Police now acknowledge was the “struggle” preceding his death, the AP reported. 

Two law enforcement officials familiar with the case told the AP that State Police are investigating whether one of the responding troopers improperly turned off his body camera during Greene’s arrest. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Shreveport confirmed the federal investigation into Greene’s death but declined to comment further, according to the newswire. 

 

State Police spokesman Capt. Chavez Cammon told The Hill that State Police are “cooperating with federal officials as it relates to this case,” as it conducts its own internal investigation.

“I can confirm that State Police immediately began an investigation into this incident. State Police forwarded its findings to the Union Parish District Attorney’s Office. Our agency is also cooperating with federal officials as it relates to this case. There is an administrative and criminal investigation into this incident currently ongoing,” Chavez said in an email Monday. 

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Chavez added that all bodycam video and arrests reports are part of the ongoing investigation and are not available to be released at this time. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) earlier this month said it was “unacceptable” that State Police had failed to discipline a trooper recorded using a racial slur on duty, AP noted.

Shauna Sanford, a spokesperson for the governor, told AP in an email that Edwards “is aware of the investigation and expects that there will be a comprehensive and fair evaluation of the facts,” adding that “he has not seen the video.”

Renee Smith, the Union Parish coroner who was not in office when the determination on Greene's death was made said, told the AP Greene's death was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest. 

Smith told the newswire her office's file on Greene attributed his death to a car crash and makes no mention of a struggle with State Police.