BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he met Thursday with the mother of Ronald Greene, the Black man who died in Louisiana State Police custody during a traffic stop outside of Monroe in 2019.
It was the second time the governor has met with Mona Hardin since last October, when the family viewed dashcam video nearly a year and a half after the deadly encounter that is now the subject of a state and federal investigation, as well as a civil lawsuit.
Thursday’s meeting with the governor comes as calls for justice in the case continue to grow even louder. Social justice activists and Greene’s family members joined news conferences and a rally Thursday in Baton Rouge demanding the immediate firing and arrests of the troopers involved, as well as federal oversight of the Louisiana State Police.
It has been almost one week since Louisiana State Police released the body cam footage from that night, giving a visual timeline of the moments leading to the death of Greene. The release of the video evidence came after the Associated Press obtained state police dashcam video of the encounter and published it, sparking renewed outrage not only about the incident itself but at the appearance of a coverup.
The video shows troopers shocking, choking, and beating Greene. Louisiana State Police initially said he died when he crashed his SUV into a tree while fleeing from troopers. State police later released a one-page statement acknowledging only that Greene struggled with troopers and died on his way to the hospital.
The video shows the 49-year-old desperately tried to roll over in what may have been a struggle to breathe but was ordered to stay on his belly.
“What happened was tragic, and I cannot imagine the immense pain of losing a child in such a terrible way,” Gov. Edwards said in a statement released by his office Thursday afternooon following the meeting with Greene’s mother as the rally continued on the steps of the state capitol.
Hardin appeared at a news conference Thursday morning before the rally with family attorney Lee Merritt. According to the Associated Press, Merritt said they had met with a state legislator and appealed to the governor’s office and district attorney to ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant for the troopers. Merritt said they were told to trust the process and await the results of a federal investigation.
“Nothing can make up for the disturbing treatment he received at the hands of some state troopers,” Edwards said in his statement. “I pledged to Ms. Mona Hardin that Louisiana State Police is cooperating fully with the Union Parish District Attorney and the United States Department of Justice in their investigations and that under the leadership of a new state police superintendent, change has already started at the agency.”
Edwards had already denounced the deadly arrest as “regrettable” following the release Tuesday of the Louisiana State Police video and timeline, but he said it again in Thursday’s statement.
“I expect every trooper who wears a Louisiana State Police badge to act professionally under every circumstance, to seek to de-escalate violent or tense situations and to treat all people they encounter respectfully and justly. Law enforcement officers must hold themselves to the highest standards at all times. I certainly do. The officers seen on the body cam footage of Mr. Greene’s arrest do not represent what we aspire to in the state of Louisiana. Their actions were deeply unprofessional and incredibly disturbing. I am disappointed in them and in any officer who stood by and did not intervene during the arrest.
I am praying that ongoing investigations, which the state is cooperating with, will bring Mr. Greene’s family a measure of peace and justice.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also released a statement Thursday saying that his office has no involvement or jurisdiction in the Louisiana State Police, state, or federal investigations.
“It is also critical to note that the Constitution of the State of Louisiana does not give the Attorney General original jurisdiction in criminal cases or authority to take a prosecution from a district attorney without cause of recusal by the DA. This criminal matter has been ongoing for two years with the involvement of the local District Attorney, and there is no legal cause for recusal.”