Two years since Ronald Greene’s death — and two days since Louisiana authorities released a series of videos of their encounter with him — his mother says she’s still in shock.
“Just trying to… bring it into reality, that this has happened to my son, grief stricken isn’t the word,” Mona Hardin told CNN on Saturday. “It’s horrific, it’s so evil.”
Greene died after a police chase and his death has been the subject of a two-year investigation. On Friday, Louisiana State Police (LSP) released a series of nine body camera and dash camera videos offering a graphic account of the May 10, 2019 encounter with the 49-year-old Black man. That release came after portions of at least two videos were reported on by the Associated Press earlier in the week.
Hardin told CNN that following the deadly encounter, she had been shown footage without sound, but knew there was more that authorities weren’t sharing. She said she had asked police at the time where the rest of the footage was and why there was no sound.
“What I did see was him, he was behind the steering wheel and the film footage was from the passenger door looking in, and he was attacked from thereon,” she said. “What I saw was that he was not meant to leave alive. He was going to be killed.”
Lee Merritt, the Greene family’s attorney, said if the body camera video had not been obtained and reported on by the Associated Press, “that would have been the end of the Ronald Greene story” and there would be no accountability.
“We’ve seen a pattern in this country, an unfortunate pattern. When law enforcement alone are the only persons with access to critical evidence, like this kind of video, the process is to minimize the conduct, to keep it out of the eyes of the public and to protect the police officers,” he said.
“However, when this video is made public, typically by camera footage or cell phone footage like in the case of George Floyd… that public pressure turns out to be very effective in moving elected officials to hold police officers accountable, so that’s what we’re looking forward to in this case,” Merritt added.
What the videos show
Greene’s family has said they were told by police Greene died in a car accident. But the graphic videos tell a different story.
The newly released footage from the state comes from cameras that were used by Lt. John Clary, Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, Trooper Kory York and Trooper Dakota DeMoss, who are White.
The videos depict parts of the chase as troopers pursued Greene’s car and tense radio transmissions can be heard describing what was happening, but at no point in any of the videos released are images of Greene’s car visible.
Attempts to pull Greene from his vehicle are seen and heard.
“OK, OK, OK officer — Lord Jesus,” can be heard and a Taser can be seen going off while Greene is still in the car.
Almost four minutes pass from the moment troopers open Greene’s car door until he’s fully handcuffed. Taser prongs still embedded in Greene’s skin are visible as his shirt lifts up while troopers curse and wrestle to pull his arms behind his back.
One camera depicting the scene was over 46 minutes long. A little after 22 minutes into the video, the audio goes silent. Later, from another camera, the EMS arrival can be seen, and Greene appears limp.
Audio from Hollingsworth’s body camera has a telephone exchange inside his patrol vehicle as he’s leaving the scene. He says Greene was drunk.
“And I beat the ever-living f*** out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control and we finally got him in handcuffs,” Hollingsworth said in the video.
He adds Greene “was still fighting and we was 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,” Hollingsworth said.
According to the LSP’s initial report of Greene’s death, he was taken into custody after “resisting arrest and a struggle with Troopers.” The report said Greene died while on route to hospital.
An autopsy report from the night Greene died did not list a manner of death, noted that “no written incident report was provided despite requests” and that no detailed information regarding a car accident had been provided either. The report said that lacerations on Greene’s head were “inconsistent with motor vehicle collision injury. These injuries are most consistent with multiple impact sites from a blunt object.”
The officers involved
Two troopers involved in the incident were reprimanded for their actions that night, including for not following procedures for body-worn cameras.
Hollingsworth was to be terminated for violations regarding body-worn camera and car camera systems, use of force, performance, lawful orders and for conduct unbecoming an officer. But he died in a car crash before he could be fired, Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis said during a news conference on Friday.
DeMoss has been notified of the department’s intent to fire him and remains on leave “pending the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings, related to a separate excessive use of force investigation.”
York completed a 50-hour suspension and returned to duty pending the outcome of the review by federal and state authorities.
CNN has reached out to an attorney for DeMoss but has not heard back. York’s attorney, Jay Adams, told CNN on Wednesday, “We have no comment on this pending litigation at this time.”
Ron Haley, another attorney for the family, said the troopers should be arrested.
“Everyone that put their hands on Ronald Greene should be arrested and two minutes after they are arrested, anyone that participated in the cover-up should follow them right into the jail cell,” Haley told CNN.
Haley said Saturday that the troopers “took it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner.”