Body camera footage of the 2019 incident wasn’t released until now, prompting accusations of a cover-up
Newly obtained footage shows Louisiana state troopers ordering Black motorist Ronald Greene to lie on his stomach and remain face down in shackles, following a violent arrest where he was choked, pepper sprayed, punched in the head, and Tased.
Footage from the ultimately fatal 2019 encounter has been released for the first time this week, with the Associated Press obtaining new video that showed a state trooper shouting at Mr Greene to stay on his stomach.
“Don’t you turn over. Lay on your belly. Lay on your belly” AP reported Trooper Kory York shouting at the shacked man.
“You better lay on your f****** belly like I told you to! You understand?” he added.
An autopsy report, also kept secret until now, suggested the heavyset Mr Greene died from head injuries and the manner of his restraint, while noting he had high levels of cocaine and alcohol in his body, as well as a broken breastbone and torn aorta. The report did not reach a conclusion on whether the death was a homicide, accidental, or undetermined, which is unusual.
“There were lacerations of the head inconsistent with motor vehicle collision injury,” Arkansas State Crime Lab pathologists wrote in their report. “These injuries are most consistent with multiple impact sites from a blunt object.”
Louisiana State Police initially said a car crash caused his death, and didn’t mention officers using force on Mr Greene.
The 10 May encounter, now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, began after the 49-year-old Mr Greene lead officers on a high-speed chase through rural highways near Monroe, Louisiana.
Once officers caught up with Mr Greene, they stunned, punched, and dragged him across the ground face-first as they arrested him and put him in hand and leg shackles.
“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 new video captures officers talking about the brutal takedown before one switches off their body camera.
“I beat the ever-living f— out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Trooper Chris Hollingsworth says in the new video. “All of a sudden he just went limp. … I thought he was dead.”
“You all got that on bodycam?” another officer asks over the phone. Mr Hollingsworth then turns off his body camera.
Officers ordered Mr Greene to remain on the ground, where he stayed face-down for more than nine minutes, moaning.
His attorneys have compared the arrest to the now-famous video of George Floyd, where Minneapolis police officers knelt on top of him for more than 9 minutes during an arrest last year, ultimately killing him.
The troopers arresting Mr Greene were also shown on video obtained earlier this week using sanitiser wipes to remove his blood from their hands and faces, with one heard saying: “I hope this guy ain’t got f****** Aids.”
A spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police declined to comment to the Associated Press due to the federal investigation.
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 their microphones cut out at times making it unclear what is happening when Mr Greene is offscreen.
“They murdered him. It was set out, it was planned,” Mona Hardin, Mr Greene’s mother, said on Wednesday. “He didn’t have a chance. Ronnie didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t going to live to tell about it.”
The family has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit, arguing troopers “brutalised” him and “left him beaten, bloodied, and in cardiac arrest” before covering up the cause of death.
Among the officers on the scene, Mr York was suspended without pay for 50 hours for dragging Mr Greene and for deactivating his body camera, while Mr Hollingsworth later died in a single-vehicle highway crash.
With reporting by the Associated Press