Family is pursuing a federal wrongful-death lawsuit
After two years, the police body camera footage of the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene by Louisiana state troopers has been released after authorities previously refused to make it public.
Obtained by the Associated Press, the footage shows the moments leading up to his death on a dark roadside outside of Monroe, following a high-speed chase.
Mr Greene is stunned, punched and dragged by his ankle cuffs as he apologises for leading officers on the chase.
“I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” Mr Greene, who is Black and was unarmed, can be heard telling the white troopers. Before he even gets out of his car he is repeatedly jolted with a stun gun.
The 2019 arrest is now the subject of a civil rights investigation, and the decision to not release the footage until now led to accusations of a cover-up.
Officials repeatedly rebuffed requests to release the footage and details regarding Mr Greene’s death. The initial story from state troopers was that he died on impact after crashing into a tree during the chase.
Later, State Police released a one-page statement acknowledging that Mr Greene had struggled with troopers and died on his way to the hospital, but did not go into any detail about the altercation.
Now, the 46 minutes of footage released shows one trooper wrestling Mr Greene to the ground, putting him in a chokehold, and punching him in the face. Another trooper can be heard calling him a “stupid motherf*****”.
As he cries out “I’m sorry!” another trooper shocks him again with the stun gun and warns him he will do it again “if you don’t put your f****** hands behind your back!”
One trooper briefly drags him across the ground facedown after his legs have been shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back. He is then left lying on his front for nine minutes, moaning.
The troopers then use sanitiser wipes to remove his blood from their hands and faces, with one heard saying: “I hope this guy ain’t got f****** Aids.”
Several minutes pass without Mr Greene on camera before he appears limp and unresponsive, bleeding from his head and face, before being put on an ambulance gurney and cuffed to the siderail.
There were six troopers at the scene of the arrest, but not all had their body cameras on and the microphone cuts out at times making it unclear what is happening when Mr Greene is offscreen.
Mr Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, said on Wednesday: “They murdered him. It was set out, it was planned.”
“He didn’t have a chance. Ronnie didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t going to live to tell about it.”
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Greene family, said that the footage had some of the same hallmarks as the George Floyd video, including “the length of it, the sheer brutality of it” and said that Mr Greene was apologising in an attempt to surrender.
A spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police declined to comment to the Associated Press due to the federal investigation.
An administrative investigation was not opened until 474 days after Mr Greene’s death, with officials initially arguing that the use of force was justified. One described it as “awful, but lawful”.
Mr Greene’s family has filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit alleging troopers “brutalised” him, and “left him beaten, bloodied, and in cardiac arrest” before covering up the cause of death.
They released graphic photographs of his body on a gurney, showing deep bruises and cuts on his face and head.
In the incident on 10 May 2019, Mr Greene failed to pull over for a traffic violation and led police on a chase at speeds of over 115mph through rural highways.
Trooper Dakota DeMoss warned over the radio: “We got to do something. He’s going to kill somebody.”
When the chase ends Mr DeMoss and Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth rush towards the vehicle. Mr Greene can be heard in the footage repeating: “OK, OK, I’m sorry.”
After being shocked in the vehicle, Mr Greene is wrestled to the ground as he exits the SUV. Mr Hollingsworth strikes him multiple times. Trooper Kory York then dragged him by the leg shackles after he is cuffed.
Mr York was suspended without pay for 50 hours for the dragging and for improperly deactivating his body camera. He told investigators the device was beeping loudly and his “mind was on other things”.
In a separate recording obtained by the Associated Press, Mr Hollingsworth can be heard telling a colleague at the office that “he beat the ever-living f*** out of” Mr Greene.
“Choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” the trooper is heard saying. “He was spitting blood everywhere, and all of a sudden he just went limp.”
Mr Hollingsworth later died in a single-vehicle highway crash that happened hours after he learned he would be fired for his part in the incident.
Mr DeMoss, meanwhile, was arrested in connection with a separate police pursuit last year in which he and two other troopers allegedly used excessive force while handcuffing a motorist.
It is still unclear exactly what caused Mr Greene’s death.
Union Parish Coroner Renee Smith told the Associated Press in 2020 that his death was ruled accidental and attributed to cardiac arrest, though his file, written before her time in office, said it was due to a car crash and there was no mention of a struggle with police.
A separate medical report says that Mr Greene was dead on arrival at the hospital. A doctor noted at the time that a police account that he had died after crashing into a tree did not add up given the two stun gun prongs in his back.
With reporting by the Associated Press