Louisiana State Police unit under investigation for arrests of Black drivers: report

Louisiana State Police unit under investigation for arrests of Black drivers: report
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The Louisiana State Police unit involved in the 2019 fatal arrest of Ronald Greene that was caught on body camera footage is now reportedly the subject of an internal investigation into whether troopers have repeatedly targeted and abused Black drivers. 

The Associated Press reported Thursday that four people familiar with the probe into Troop F confirmed its existence, and said the investigation includes Greene’s death and three other of the department’s violent encounters with Black men. 

The investigation, which according to the AP began a few weeks ago with the review of thousands of body camera videos from the past two years, includes an incident in which a Black man was punched, stunned and pulled to his feet by his hair braids, according to body camera footage obtained by the AP. 

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Another included in the probe is an encounter with a Black man who was slammed 18 times with a flashlight by troopers, the AP reported. 

Aaron Bowman told the AP that the flashlight left him with three broken ribs, a broken jaw, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples. 

“Every time I told him to stop he’d hit me again,” Bowman said. “I don’t want to see this happen to nobody — not to my worst enemy.”

According to the AP, the probe includes as many as a dozen white troopers, at least four of whom were involved in Greene’s arrest. 

In addition to reviewing body camera footage for excessive force, investigators are also looking into whether troopers showed signs of racist tendencies in their traffic stops, as well as whether they attempted to turn off body cameras or hide evidence from internal probes, the people familiar with the matter told the AP. 

The reported probe into the 66-officer state police unit comes as it has faced numerous allegations of brutality in recent years, some of which have resulted in felony charges against troopers. 

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State Police spokesperson Capt. Nick Manale said in a statement to The Hill that the department "cannot confirm any reports by the AP," but added, "Upon learning of the use of force incidents, LSP immediately initiated a criminal investigation and placed the involved Troopers on administrative leave."

"Louisiana State Police Investigators completed a thorough and detailed investigation leading to the arrest of the Troopers involved in the incidents," he said, noting that during the investigation that two troopers resigned from the agency. 

Another two troopers "received notice of the internal disciplinary findings including termination of employment from LSP effective June 4, 2021." 

Manale told The Hill that "LSP continues to offer our full cooperation with the respective prosecutorial offices in the ongoing legal process."

"In conjunction with departmental policy, body and in-car camera video is required to be reviewed by LSP supervisors," he explained. "Video is continually assessed to ensure officer safety, compliance to LSP policy, and proper interactions with the public." 

Racial justice activists have called for charges to be filed against the state troopers involved in Greene’s death, especially after it was revealed that the top officer involved in the fatal arrest initially failed to report body camera footage from the incident. 

Manale said in a statement to The Hill late last month that personnel found three videos that hadn’t been submitted to investigators.

Last month, Louisiana officials released full body camera footage from Greene’s arrest, which showed officers, following a lengthy high-speed chase, restraining and beating the 49-year-old before he died. 

Police had initially said that Greene died on impact in a car crash on impact, before later acknowledging that a struggle with the man took place.