La. governor responds to claims he delayed probe into Ronald Greene’s death

The public release of the graphic video of Greene’s arrest prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to speak out

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has clapped back at accusations that he delayed or interfered with investigations into the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene

TheGrio previously cited an Associated Press report that showed the Democratic governor was informed within hours that troopers arresting Greene engaged in a “violent, lengthy struggle,” yet he stayed silent for two years as state police told a much different story to the victim’s family and in official reports: that Greene died from a crash after a high-speed chase.

Ronald Greene - theGrio.com
Ronald Greene, 49, was brutally beaten, tased and choked by officers following a high-speed chase in Louisiana for an unspecific traffic violation in May 2019. Louisiana State Troopers initially said Greene died of a car accident, but May 2021 bodycam footage showed the officers beating Greene to death. (PhotoCred: Family photo via AP)

The public release of the graphic video of Greene’s arrest prompted Edwards to finally speak out to condemn the troopers and he later called their actions “criminal.” But the governor, who comes from a long family line of law enforcement officers, also reportedly repeated the crash theory and downplayed the actions of the troopers.

In one case detailed by the AP, he allegedly argued privately against Schexnayder’s proposal for a legislative inquiry into the Greene arrest last June, telling him there was no need because he “died in a wreck.”

House Speaker Rep. Clay Schexnayder has accused Edwards of “gross misconduct and the highest level of deceit” for his response to the arrest of Greene.

John Bel Edwards thegrio.com
Gov. John Bel Edwards talks to media at the Case Closed Barbershop on November 15, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Edwards strongly denies mishandling the probe.

“I can’t imagine if Mr. Greene had been white he would have been treated that way,” said Edwards at a news conference on Tuesday, NBC News reports. “I think we have to acknowledge racism when we see it. We have to call it what it is.”

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus questioned why Edwards stayed mostly silent on the case until the body camera video was released last May showing “white troopers jolting Greene with stun guns, punching him in the face and dragging him by his ankle shackles as he pleaded for mercy,” NBC News reports.

“A man died in custody. You don’t ask his name? You don’t ask what happened? You don’t get any facts?” one caucus member reportedly said during a heated, closed-door meeting with the Edwards, according to audio of the meeting obtained by the AP, per the report.

“This matter will not go away until there is an acknowledgment that there was a cover-up,” said another caucus member. 

“I am not going to tell you everything that has happened with the state police since I’ve been governor has been perfect,” Edwards stated. 

“They’re alleging that I have been personally involved in these things and I have not,” Edwards told the caucus.

Edwards was in the midst of a tight reelection campaign at the time of Greene’s death but denies this being the reason for his silence when first notified about Greene’s arrest.

“I apologize with the core of my soul that we haven’t made the progress over the last year that I hoped to have made and that I thought we were making with state police,” Edwards said. “I am more disappointed in me than probably you are.”

This article contains additional reporting from The Associated Press.

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