By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – Louisiana lawmakers are vowing to investigate Gov. John Bel Edwards’ reaction to the 2019 death of Ronald Greene after allegations in news reports he misled the public about the Black motorist’s struggle with state police.
Louisiana Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, issued a statement Monday regarding a report by The Associated Press last week that revealed Edwards received a text message about Greene’s death from state police but hid the truth from the public amid his re-election campaign.
“The revelations detailed by the Associated Press regarding Governor Edwards’ involvement in the alleged cover-up in the cause of death of Ronald Greene are greatly disturbing,” Schexnayder’s statement read.
“This would demonstrate gross misconduct and the highest level of deceit on behalf of the governor and others. What happened to Ronald Greene is inexcusable and should never happen to anyone. His family and the citizens of this state deserve to know the truth,” the statement continued. “Over the weekend, I spoke with the President of the Senate and the Louisiana Attorney General. It’s our responsibility to the people of this state to seek the truth. It’s time to find out who knew what – and when – and hold them accountable.”
An investigation into state police practices and policies already was underway in the Senate Select Committee on State Police Oversight, where chair Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, told BRProud “everything is on the table.”
Greene’s mother Mona Hardin, meanwhile, told the news website she is struggling with the recent revelations.
“It basically just hits me like a ton of rocks and just. It’s really heavy, it’s emotionally really disturbing,” she said. “On the highest level. Because of his position, he’s governor of Louisiana. He’s a high official and just. This is not the first feeling I’ve had, but it’s just like taking a knife and just taking it in deeper and deeper.”
In addition to lawmakers, the Louisiana NAACP also is demanding answers.
“We continue to stand and support a grieving family and justice for Mr. Ronald Greene,” president of the Baton Rouge chapter, Eugene Collins, told BRProud. “But the governor does need to explain just how this text came about. What does it mean? At what point did you know? Because right now, seemingly this process is looking less and less likely to be transparent.”
The AP reported Friday that Edwards received a text message from Louisiana State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeves at 10 a.m. May 10, 2019, about nine hours after Greene was involved in a deadly altercation with state police near Monroe.
The text said state police attempted to stop a vehicle in Ouachita Parish and the driver led police on a high-speed chase in excess of 110 mph through two parishes before eventually crashing the vehicle.
“Troopers attempted to place the driver under arrest. But, a violent, lengthy struggle took place. After some time struggling with the suspect, troopers were joined by a Union parish deputy and were able to take the suspect into custody,” the text read. “EMS was summoned to assess the suspect’s injuries. The suspect remained combative but became unresponsive shortly before EMS arrived. The suspect was later pronounced dead at the hospital.”
State police told the public and Greene’s family the 49-year-old died in the car crash. A coroner’s report also indicated Greene was killed in a motor vehicle accident, and state police made no mention of troopers’ use of force during the incident.
Edwards reportedly kept the truth under wraps for two years until The AP obtained and published body-camera footage from the incident showing troopers jolting Greene with stun guns, punching him in the face and dragging him by his ankle shackles.
Following the video’s release, Edwards condemned troopers’ “criminal” actions as “deeply unprofessional and incredibly disturbing.”
“I am disappointed in them and in any officer who stood by and did not intervene,” Edwards said.
Greene’s family eventually filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in late 2020 and a subsequent FBI autopsy attributed Greene’s death to a “physical struggle” and Greene’s use of cocaine.
Both the wrongful-death lawsuit and FBI investigation are ongoing. The FBI investigation also is looking into allegations Edwards steered Schexnayder away from a legislative investigation because “Greene died in a car wreck,” The AP reported.
Edwards’ office has declined to discuss or has not responded to media inquiries about the text message, according to multiple reports.
Originally published by The Center Square