A special legislative committee investigating the 2019 death of Ronald Greene in police custody is seeking to hold the former head of Louisiana State Police in contempt for allegedly failing to cooperate with a subpoena for journals he kept during his tenure, a member of the committee told CNN.
The committee said last week it subpoenaed at least three journals kept by former Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves, but he did not comply with the order, according to Rep. Denise Marcelle, who sits on the investigative committee.
“They can’t be above the law,” Marcelle told CNN Tuesday night. “Our chairman sat down asking for very specific things and this committee has been fair. They continue to cloud this situation they’re in. The further we go and investigate, the worse it gets.”
Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, died during the overnight hours of May 10, 2019, after an incident troopers described as resisting arrest and a struggle with officers. His family, however, said they were told Greene died in a car crash after a chase, CNN has reported.
Videos of the incident were released two years later. They showed Greene being tased, kicked and punched by members of the Louisiana State Police before he died in their custody.
In response to Greene’s death, a select committee of the state’s House of Representatives was created to investigate.
Lewis Unglesby, an attorney who represents Reeves, met with Rep. Tanner Magee, the chair of the committee, Monday and gave him between nine and 11 pages of entries from his client’s journals, but not the journals in their entirety, Unglesby told CNN.
Magee left the meeting without taking the documents, Unglesby told CNN. He also said he sent the committee the documents via email, fax and letter.
“They don’t have the journals, that’s true,” Unglesby told CNN in a phone call. “But do you have the records that relate to Greene? Yes,” he said, adding, “The rest of the journals are none of their business.”
Reeves retired from his position as head of the state police in October 2020 amidst controversy surrounding his handling of Greene’s death.
In March, Reeves testified in front of the special committee about his knowledge of the incident and during an at times heated exchange with lawmakers, he denied claims of a cover-up in Greene’s death.
But Marcelle said after hearing testimony from current and former state police troopers, it is clear to her that a cover-up occurred. “The question becomes how high is the cover up and when are we going to start to see people held accountable,” she said.
Governor accused of keeping quiet
The special legislative committee spearheading the probe was created after The Associated Press reported in January that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards kept quiet for two years about what he knew regarding Greene’s death.
Edwards denied the allegation at the time, saying he welcomed “any and all legislative oversight” of the case. He has called the actions of the troopers involved “criminal” and said he was briefed by Reeves in May 2019 that Greene died after a chase and a “violent, lengthy struggle” with state police.
The whistleblower in the case, Carl Cavalier, a former Louisiana state trooper, was fired after he accused colleagues involved in Greene’s death of murder and an alleged internal coverup. Since Greene’s death, multiple troopers have come forward to testify that a cover-up occurred within the highest ranks of the department, which Reeves denies.
Meanwhile, Greene’s family filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the state troopers involved in the death, as well as their superiors – seeking damages for payment for all medical and funeral expenses.
Troopers have maintained Greene’s death “was caused by crash-related blunt force chest trauma that resulted in a fractured sternum and ruptured aorta” and said they used force “for their own personal safety and for the safety of the public,” according to court documents.
An autopsy report from the Union Parish Coroner’s Office obtained by CNN found lacerations on Greene’s head were “inconsistent with motor vehicle collision injury,” and “most consistent with multiple impact sites from a blunt object.”
CNN’s Jade Gordon and Alta Spells contributed to this report.