A select committee of the Louisiana House of Representatives will investigate the death of Ronald Greene in state police custody and “who knew what and when” during the two years it took for videos of incident to be released, according to Speaker Clay Schexnayder.
The announcement from Schexnayder comes a week after Gov. John Bel Edwards responded to an article by The Associated Press that suggested the governor kept quiet for two years about what he knew regarding the events on the night Greene died.
Edwards rejected the report’s allegations, and said in a statement Thursday he welcomes “any and all legislative oversight” into the investigation of Greene’s death.
“I am hopeful that the outcome of this investigation, which has been pending for more than two years, will provide answers and justice for the Greene family,” said the Democratic governor.
Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, died during the overnight hours of May 10, 2019, after what the police described as resisting arrest and a struggle with officers. His family, however, said that they were told that Greene died in a car crash after a police chase, CNN has previously reported.
Videos of the incident were not released for two years. It showed Greene being tased, kicked and punched by Louisiana State Police officers before he died in their custody.
The committee will be tasked with reviewing the handling on all levels of Greene’s death, to include receiving testimony from various individuals, a House news release said.
“I look to the committee to provide answers to questions regarding the incident and its handling that would assist members, the family, and the public in understanding what happened and help the state move forward,” said Schexnayder, a Republican.
A hearing will be held “shortly after the conclusion of the current special session,” the release said. The Legislature is in an “extraordinary session” that will end February 20, according to the body’s website. The regular session will begin March 14 and end June 6.
“The actions taken that night and the cryptic decisions and statements made every step of the way since then have eroded public trust. That trust can only be regained with a transparent and robust search for the whole truth in this matter,” Schexnayder said.
Governor called trooper actions ‘criminal’
Edwards ran for reelection in 2019, ultimately defeating his Republican challenger Eddie Rispone by winning 51% in a runoff vote on November 16.
Edwards last week called the actions of troopers involved in the death “criminal” and rejected the AP report alleging that he purposefully did not speak out against false narratives by state police.
The governor said that after the incident, he was briefed by then state police Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves in a May 2019 text that a suspect died following a police chase and a “violent, lengthy struggle” and that the LSP was investigating.
Edwards repeatedly denied he ever misled anyone about Greene dying in a car crash prior to the release of the videos, saying anyone who said that was how Greene died was “obviously lying.”
He said that neither he nor his office ever tried to hide or interfere with any parts of the investigation and he did not see the video until October 2020. And when he did, he did not characterize the footage before it was released publicly because he was told by the Justice Department doing so could hinder their investigation.
Schexnayder, the House speaker, said, “The truth must come out to show what happened in this case and in the events that followed. The public demands it and the family deserves it. No crime should be ignored, no cover-up will be tolerated.”
Greene’s family filed lawsuit against troopers
No one has been charged in Greene’s death.
Greene’s family has filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the state troopers involved in the incident, as well as their superiors, seeking damages for payment for all medical and funeral expenses.
The troopers have maintained that Greene’s death “was caused by crash-related blunt force chest trauma that resulted in a fractured sternum and ruptured aorta” and have maintained they had to use force to restrain him “for their own personal safety and for the safety of the public,” according to court documents.
The state troopers involved were identified as Dakota DeMoss, Kory York, Chris Hollingsworth and Lt. John Clary.
DeMoss, received a letter of counseling and letter of reprimand, according to the LSP. He was fired over an unrelated excessive force incident, CNN reported last year.
York received a 50-hour suspension for his role, according to the LSP. After serving his suspension, he returned to active duty pending the outcome of the review by federal and state authorities.
Hollingsworth was set to be terminated, but died in a car crash before he could be fired, Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis said last year.
Clary was not disciplined due to insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation that he intentionally withheld video evidence, according to the LSP. He remains on active duty.
CNN’s Nick Valencia, Christina Maxouris and Maria Cartaya contributed to this report.