Investigator: Louisiana State Police ignored recommendation to arrest trooper in Ronald Greene case

By: - March 11, 2022 5:53 pm
Ronald Greene

Ronald Greene (Courtesy of Associated Press)

An in-house Louisiana State Police investigator said his recommendation to supervisors to have a trooper arrested following the in-custody death of Ronald Greene, a Black motorist, was ignored. 

Police video that the Associated Press obtained shows at least six of the troopers on the scene of Greene’s arrest are white.

Lt. Johnny Brown, the head of criminal investigations in the LSP Monroe field office, told a legislative committee Friday that only once in his career was his recommendation to arrest a trooper not followed. The Senate Committee of State Police Oversight was formed after Greene’s death to provide reform recommendations for the state’s law enforcement agency.

Greene died after a May 2019 police pursuit when he crashed his vehicle outside Monroe. State Police initially claimed Greene’s death was the result of injuries from the accident. An FBI autopsy ruled out that possibility, and police body camera video showed troopers beating, dragging and shooting Greene with their stun guns.

Senators were limited to what they could ask Brown at Friday’s meeting, focusing only on general questions and nothing specific to the Greene case. But the lawmakers’ attempts at vaguery were pointed enough to indicate they wanted to know if State Police higher-ups withheld information related to Greene’s death.

Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, asked Brown if a supervisor had ever asked him to exclude information from a report. 

“I’m not going to commit a crime for anyone,” Brown answered.

Accompanying Brown at the meeting was Gail Holland, deputy general counsel for the state Department of Corrections and Public Safety. Numerous times throughout the questioning from senators, Holland and Brown consulted with one another before he responded. At times, Holland prevented Brown from answering questions, repeating the ground rules committee chairman Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, stated at the start of the meeting.

Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, expressed his frustration with the inability to ask questions directly about how State Police handled their internal investigation of Greene’s death. He suggested to Brown that he hire his own private attorney rather than rely on the state agency’s counsel.

“I don’t need an attorney,” Brown answered sharply. “I’ve reported everything that happened during that case.”

Fields and Jackson then went to extra lengths to tell Brown that they did not believe he was involved in any coverup, describing him as “honorable.” Jackson also vouched for Brown’s long, unblemished track record as a trooper.

The committee’s recommendations for changes within State Police should ensure that officers such as Brown are able to perform their work without interference, Fields added.

“We want people like him to wake up and go to work and not feel any pressure,” the senator said. 

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

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.

Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.

MORE FROM AUTHOR