Timeline: What's Happened In The Two Years Since 49-Year Old Black Motorist Ronald Greene Died In Louisiana State Police Custody
It has been more than two years since Ronald Greene died while in Louisiana State Police custody in West Monroe after a traffic stop.
Greene, a Black man, was pulled over after a high-speed chase with troopers with LSP's Troop F in May of 2019 after he allegedly refused to stop. Conflicting reports were initially made concerning Greene's death, and we are only starting to get some answers as to how he died thanks in large part to investigative reporting from the Associated Press. After months of stonewalling and unanswered questions surrounding this case from LSP officials, it seems more details are released every week.
Here is a complete timeline of what we know about Greene’s fatal arrest, how the LSP and other authorities have handled the case and the ongoing demands for justice.
May 10, 2019
Ronald Greene’s Arrest & Death
KNOE, a local TV station in Monroe, Louisiana, reports, “Police say a man is dead after a high-speed chase that started in Ouachita Parish and ended with a crash in Union Parish.”
The story identifies the deceased as Ronald Greene of West Monroe and says the Louisiana State Police said he refused to pull over when state troopers tried to stop him and took them on a chase for approximately 20 minutes before crashing his car.
The news report said police indicated that “a struggle ensued” after Greene was handcuffed, but he “became unresponsive,” by the time EMS arrived on the scene.
May 15, 2019
Vigil Held for Greene
Greene’s family holds a vigil for their deceased loved one at the scene of his arrest near the intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 143 in Union Parish, also called Crossroads. Family members voice their doubts about how Greene died according to the Louisiana State Police’s official report.
“We haven’t been able to believe this,” Mona Hardin, Greene’s mother, told KNOE reporter Perry Robinson.
Greene’s nephew said he’d heard from people who lived nearby where Greene was arrested.
“And they told him verbatim, that they could hear Ronnie screaming saying, ‘I'm sorry, I should’ve pulled over,’” Robinson, the reporter said.
Robinson said the scene still showed tire marks in the mud from where Greene crashed his car.
“The family was saying that the circumstances that they were told from the beginning just wasn’t adding up,” Robinson said. “From the very jump they always believed that there was something extra or something missing.”
May 6, 2020
Greene’s Family Sues for Wrongful Death, Cites Use of Force Against Him
Greene’s family files a federal wrongful death lawsuit which claims “the force used against Greene left him beaten, bloodied, and in cardiac arrest.”
The suit notes that the principal cause of death listed in an initial report from Glenwood Medical Center was cardiac arrest and that Greene “was also diagnosed with an ‘unspecified injury of head.’”
The report says police told Greene’s family that he was killed in a car crash and that one officer told Hardin that her son died on impact after hitting a tree.
Investigation Into Greene’s Death Launched by Feds
On September 14, the Associated Press reports that “federal authorities are investigating” Greene’s death.
That probe is ongoing.
September 16, 2020
Images of Greene After Arrest Shared, Show Multiple Woulds
Eugene Collins, leader of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP posts graphic images of Greene with several lacerations and bruises to the head and face.
“Is this how a struggle with an unarmed Black man ends?” Collin writes. “…With these photos now being made public, it is time someone spoke up and ensured the release of all body cam footage.”
September 21, 2020
Trooper Involved in Greene’s Arrest Dies in Single-Vehicle Crash
Hours after finding out that the Louisiana State Police intended to terminate Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth for his involvement in Greene’s arrest, the officer suffers injuries in a single vehicle car accident and dies the next day.
According to the Associated Press, Hollingsworth crashed his personal vehicle on Interstate 20 in Monroe. He was airlifted to a hospital in Shreveport on Monday, September 12. He died in the hospital on Tuesday, September 22.
October 2, 2020
Deceased Trooper’s Audio Leaks, Reveals Abuse
In it Hollingsworth says, “I beat the ever living f____ out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control. … The son of a b____ was still fighting and we were still wrestling with him trying to hold him down because he was spitting blood everywhere. And then all of a sudden he just went limp.”
October 15, 2020
Greene Family Sees Video Footage of Fatal Arrest
In a private viewing with Gov. John Bel Edwards, Greene’s family members and their attorneys are shown a half-hour of body camera footage from the night that Greene was arrested.
The family’s attorney called it, “damning footage that shows troopers choking and beating the man, repeatedly jolting him with stun guns and dragging him face-down across the pavement,” the AP reported.
October 27-30, 2020
Changes in Louisiana State Police Leadership
According to the Associated Press, Gov. Edwards told reporters at a press conference, “I didn’t lose any confidence in Col. Reeves ... It wasn’t a surprise, nor was it anything that I asked for.”
Days later on October 30, Edwards appoints Col. Lamar A. Davis, a Baton Rouge native, to lead the State Police. Davis is the first Black superintendent the agency has seen. He changes leadership of Troop F, which patrols Northeast Louisiana where Greene was arrested.
May 19, 2021,
AP Acquires, Publishes Body Camera Video from Greene’s Arrest
More than two years after Ronald Greene’s fatal arrest, the Associated Press acquires and publishes body cam video from the incident.
In the video, Greene can be heard saying “I’m your brother,” and “I’m sorry.” The footage shows officers tasing Greene multiple times and pinning him to the ground. Officers leave Greene laying on his chest for more than nine minutes. At one point, Greene attempts to turn onto his side and one trooper, Kory York, orders him to stay on his belly before dragging him.
York kneels on Green’s back and says, “You better lay on your f_______ belly life I told you to! You understand?“
May 21, 2021
The Louisiana State Police Releases the Footage
At a press conference, Col. Davis said the Louisiana State Police had every intention of releasing all body and in-car camera footage from Greene’s arrest after it finished investigating the incident. He said any suggestion that the LSP had other intentions is false.
“Some evidence has been released to the media without the approval of LSP,” Davis said, referring to the video aired by the Associated Press and CNN days before. “As such, today, we’re releasing all of the video evidence maintained by LSP related to the in custody death of Mr. Ronald Greene.”
The most damning images come from the roughly 45 minutes of video from, now terminated, Trooper Dakota DeMoss’ camera.
Days later, on May 24, the Associated Press reports that Lt. John Clary hid footage from his body and in-car cameras from investigators for almost two years.
May 21, 2021
The AP Publishes Details From the Autopsy Report
The Associated Press publishes details from Greene’s autopsy report after receiving it “from a source with knowledge of the investigation.”
No manner of death (homicide, suicide, accidental, natural causes, etc.) is listed in the autopsy. It states that the coroner’s office did not receive an incident report, information about the car accident or emergency services medical records because those details were never provided despite attempts to get them.
The report also listed a fractured sternum and cuts on Greene’s aorta and liver.
"Whether this injury is due to trauma from the motor vehicle collision, subsequent struggle, or is resuscitative in nature cannot be stated with certainty. These findings can be associated with motor vehicle collision, but may also be seen in other circumstances, including inflicted injury during a struggle and/or related to resuscitative efforts (CPR)," the autopsy said.
The autopsy said Greene died due to "cocaine induced agitated delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury, and restraint," according to the AP. Cocaine induced agitated delirium is a condition associated with excited delirium, which has been listed as the cause of death in other fatal use of force cases, including the deaths of George Floyd and Tommie McGlothen, who died in Shreveport police custody in April 2020 after officers repeatedly hit and punched him. The American Medical Association officially opposes the diagnosis.
Sources in the Associated Press article noted that it is unusual for a coroner to list “cocaine induced agitated delirium” in a car accident death.
Justice For Ronald Greene Rally Held
A rally seeking justice for Greene, organized by The Urban League of Louisiana, the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP and the ACLU of Louisiana, is held at the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
Several family members of Black men who have died in law enforcement custody — mostly mothers and Tommie McGlothen’s son — speak about their loved one and their experiences seeking justice.
“All I can say is there is an unspoken bond between us just behind the pain alone,” Hardin said in an interview after a short march to the Governor’s Mansion. “That’s horrible in itself. But we need each other because we relate. And it’s a shame how there’s so many of us connecting behind this.”
June 9, 2021
‘Secret Panel’ Will Investigate Troop F
The Associated Press reports that the Louisiana State Police has assembled a “secret panel” to investigate whether officers in Troop F, which patrols Northeast Louisiana where Ronald Greene was arrested and died in police custody, “are systematically targeting Black motorists for abuse.”
June 15, 2021
Attorney For Ronald Greene’s Family Speaks Out on Louisiana Considered
In an interview with Louisiana Considered, attorney Ron Haley says, “the family filed a lawsuit to get answers, not money.”
Haley explained that he and fellow civil rights attorney Lee Merritt are seeking subpoena power so that troopers involved in Greene’s arrest and in the alleged concealment of details surrounding it have to testify under oath, “so that we can find out what happened and not just what happened to him that night, but those that participated in the cover up. Because I think what has been evident is that there has been a cover up in this case.”
Haley also called on Governor John Bel Edwards for “tangible action.”
“We want to see the governor of this state use his pulpit as the governor to demand the appropriate remedies here," Haley said. "Don't just say that this is unprofessional. Don't just say that you're concerned. Call this for what it is. Call this a criminal act. That's what we need right now.”