Louisiana State Police detective says he was targeted after Ronald Greene investigation
Ronald Greene’s mother begs lawmakers to hold State Police accountable
Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis talks with Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, after a Dec. 13, 2021 hearing on police reform. (Photo by Rachel Mipro/Louisiana Illuminator)
A Louisiana State Police detective said that he was targeted by other state police officials after he refused to go along with an alleged “coverup”– possibly of the death of motorist Ronald Greene at the hands of state troopers.
“I said I’m being investigated because I won’t participate in a coverup, I won’t hide evidence and I won’t lie,” recalled Sgt. Albert Paxton during a Louisiana Senate Select Committee on State Police Oversight hearing Monday.
Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, died in State Police custody after being beaten, stunned and dragged by state troopers in 2019. His violent arrest was captured on body camera video leaked to the Associated Press earlier this year.
State Police had refused to release troubling video of Greene’s arrest for several months and initially said Greene’s cause of death was injuries from a car wreck. The Louisiana Senate launched its own investigation this fall into brutality complaints against the agency, after some senators began to suspect there was a coverup of trooper’s misconduct in Greene’s case and others. The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating Greene’s death.
Paxton was the lead detective on the State Police internal investigation into Greene’s death. During his testimony Monday, he hinted that there were barriers he faced in the Greene investigation, though a State Police attorney attending the hearing stopped Paxton from answering questions specific to Greene’s case. Instead, Paxton had to answer general questions about his work as a detective in 2019, when he was conducting the investigation into the troopers’ treatment of Greene.
Paxton said his higher-ups at State Police had refused to listen to recommendations he made following an internal investigation in 2019 — the same year Greene died — and that trooper body camera footage had been purposefully hidden.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
After his investigation into Greene’s death, Paxton said State Police launched an investigation into Paxton’s own job performance. They chastised him for sharing information with his wife via email, though Paxton said supervisors used to encourage him to send documents to his wife, an attorney, for proof-reading.
The Senate committee had wanted to hear from other state police officers with first-hand knowledge of the Greene case, but three other people they asked to attend Monday’s hearing didn’t show up.
Retired Louisiana State Police Col. Kevin Reeves, who was in charge of state police at the time of the incident; Lt. John Clary, who was the ranking trooper at the scene of Greene’s death; and Master Trooper Kory York, who was shown on video violently handling Greene, didn’t come to the hearing.
Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis said he told the state troopers currently employed with the state — everyone except for Reeves — that they weren’t facing a subpoena and thus had no legal obligation to attend.
“I did not tell them not to show up, I told them under what conditions they were being requested,” Davis said.
That didn’t sit well with Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge.
“I just think more transparency would be a good thing, not a bad thing,” Fields said. “When the Senate requests the employee of the state, the Senate expects that employee to show up.”
Senators were also unhappy to hear that at least one of the state police officers who the federal government is investigating has been promoted. Maj. Jason Turner — one of Paxton’s supervisors — is now the head of the Criminal Investigations Division and in charge of handling use-of-force investigations.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said she had concerns about people under investigation being moved up the ladder, especially to positions of police oversight.
“[The federal] investigation is not over and so we don’t have the end results of who acted and in what way,” Jackson said. “Again, I’m seeing from [the State Police troop in Monroe] a lot of people who are being promoted who were part of that investigation.”
Mona Hardin, Greene’s mother, also testified Monday. She stressed the injustice of the case, urging lawmakers to take action.
“I’ve been wandering around in a cloud of confusion, just wondering what does it take for the state of Louisiana to recognize the murder of a man,” Hardin said. “Unless any of you have seen your son being killed on such a level, on such a horrific level, you would not know the feeling.”
Davis said incidents of police violence would be better monitored by a new regulatory unit. The 15-person unit, called the Force Investigative Unit, will investigate police use-of-force incidents, including chokeholds, tasers and blows to the head, reporting to Davis.
The unit team has already been picked, Davis said, but he could not give a firm time frame for when the unit will be up and running.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.