Photo of Advocate file via Hilary Scheinuk / AP
Baton Rouge, Louisiana — A bright red state Democrat, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was absorbed in a difficult reelection campaign when he received a text message from the head of state police. , A long battle with a black driver “, ending with the death of a man.
Edwards was informed of the death of Ronald Green within hours of his May 2019 arrest, according to a text message obtained by the Associated Press through a request for public records. Still, the governor was silent as police told the victim’s family, and in an official report, a very different story that Green died in a crash after a high-speed chase.
Edwards has been openly silent about inconsistent accounts and possible concealment for two years, and AP has obtained and released a long-held body camera footage showing what really happened: A white soldier shook the green with a stun gun and hit his face, and he begged for mercy, lamenting, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” I dragged him in bondage.
The governor refused to request repeated interviews, and his spokesman did not say whatever Edwards did immediately after Green’s death. “The governor does not direct disciplinary action or criminal investigations. It is not appropriate for him to do so,” spokesman Christina Stevens said.
What the governor knew, when he knew it, and what he did, became a problem in the federal civil rights investigation of a deadly encounter, and police brass took the judiciary to protect the soldiers who arrested Green. Whether it interfered.
“The question is when did he find the truth?” Senator Cleo Fields was Baton, vice chairman of the legislative committee created last year to delve into excessive force complaints by state police. He said he was a member of the Rouge Democratic Party.
In recent months, the FBI has asked people about Edwards’ perceptions of various aspects of the case, according to law enforcement officials who discussed the investigation on condition of anonymity. Investigators have partially focused on influential lawmakers, saying the governor has downplayed the need for legislative investigations.
A spokesperson for the governor said he was not under investigation and was not a member of his staff.
Louisiana Police / Via AP
Edwards remained silent about the Green case through a 2019 reelection campaign and a summer 2020 protest over racial injustice triggered by the murder of George Floyd. Even after Green’s family filed a tort proceeding that drew attention to the case in late 2020, Edwards refused to characterize the soldier’s behavior because of concerns about not interfering with the federal investigation. Rejected the call to publish the body camera video.
However, Edwards finally screamed when AP obtained and released a long-held footage of an encounter that left the green bloody and sluggish on a dark road near Monroe.
Edwards blamed the soldiers and called their actions “very unprofessional and incredibly disturbing.”
“I am disappointed with them and the officers who did not intervene,” the governor said in a statement. He later called the soldier’s actions “criminals.”
However, Edwards, a long-term family lawyer for Louisiana Sheriffs, has also commented that since the video was released, he has downplayed Trooper’s actions and replayed the story that Green may have been killed in a car accident. I am.
“Did he die because he was injured in an accident?” Edwards said in response to a question on a radio show in September. “Obviously, he wasn’t dead in the accident itself because he was still alive when the soldier was involved with him. But what was the cause of death? I don’t know it was mispainted. Hmm.”
A few weeks after those remarks, a re-examined autopsy commissioned by the FBI attributed Green’s death to a “physical struggle” and rejected the crash theory altogether.
Federal investigators are interested in a conversation last June between Edwards and Clay Schexnayder, the powerful Republican Speaker of the House, who was considering a legislative investigation into the Green case after the video was released. ..
Schexnayder said this week that the governor told him that “Green died in a wreck” and no further action from Congress was needed. Speakers said they never proceeded with the investigation to avoid interfering with the federal investigation.
A spokesperson for the governor acknowledged that he had explained to legislative leaders about “understanding the Green Survey,” and said his remarks were in line with his official statement. The US Department of Justice declined to comment.
Courtesy of Green Family / Via AP
“It’s time to know what happened, who knew what when, and if someone hid it,” Shexnyder told AP. “The Greens deserve to know the truth.”
Edwards received textual news of the Green incident from then-Louisiana police officer Kevin Reeves at 10 am on May 10, 2019, about nine hours after his fatal arrest.
I read the message, “Good morning. For reference.” “Early this morning, soldiers tried to stop the vehicle in Wasita Parish. The driver fled through two parishes over 110 mph and eventually crashed. Soldiers tried to arrest the driver. However, there was a fierce, long struggle. For some time, the soldiers wrestled with the suspect, and the soldiers joined the Union Parish’s deputy and were able to detain the suspect …. the suspect was in combat. But shortly before the EMS arrived, it became unresponsive. ”
The explanation given to Edwards, which his spokesman called a “standard notice,” was very different from what Green’s family said was being said by soldiers at about the same time — the 49-year-old car. Died in the impact of the accident at the end of the chase. A coroner’s report that day showed that Green was killed in a car accident, and state police crash reports did not mention soldiers using power.
Reeves finished his text by telling the governor that the man’s death was under investigation.
“Thank you,” Edwards replied.
These words were one of the few statements from Edwards himself issued in response to a request for widespread public records filed by AP in June on materials related to Green’s death. The Governor’s Office has not released a message from Edwards to his staff and has not yet fully responded to another December request for his text with the three Supreme Police Officers.
Hundreds of other emails and text messages released by the Governor’s Office have his staff more actively involved behind the scenes, while he is openly away from state police violence and problems. It shows that it is. About the Green Incident.
Alexander Van Hook, who oversaw the civil rights investigation into Green’s death in Shreveport until December, said the governor had no attempt to influence the investigation in November. “If so, it didn’t work for us,” Van Hook told AP.
Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Edwards was obliged to follow up at least to the head of state police after being informed of Green’s death.
“When something goes wrong … he was shocked,” Laundry said.
Meanwhile, state police recently “disinfected” Reeves’ cell phone and admitted in AP’s first report of Green’s death that he intentionally erased the message after his sudden retirement in 2020. .. Authorities said they did the same on the phone of another former police commander, Mike Noel, who resigned from the regulatory agency last year after being asked about the case by lawmakers. Police said such erasure was a policy.
According to Edwards’ office, the Governor first learned of “Mr. Green’s death allegations” in September 2020. In the same month, a state senator sent Edwards lawyers copies of several Green family tort proceedings. A few months ago.
No one has been charged with crime for Green’s death, and only one of the soldiers involved in his arrest has been dismissed. Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who was recorded as “defeating the everlasting f —” of Green, died in a car accident in 2020 shortly after learning that he would lose his job.
In early October 2020, the governor reviewed a video of Green’s deadly arrest after the AP released the audio of Hollingsworth’s comment, his spokesman said.
Some observers of Edwards’ reaction to the Green incident see it as partly a political calculation. At the time of the deadly arrest, the Centrist Democrats were in a very conservative and tough reelection campaign against the Republicans backed by Donald Trump.His path to reelection relied on high turnout and crossover support from law enforcement agencies.
Joshua Stockley, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana Monroe, said Green’s death, and ultimately the biral footage, “threaten both voting groups politically at the same time.”
But the first public signs that Green was abused didn’t show up until a few months after Edwards won 51% of the votes for businessman Eddie Respawn. He won 90% of the votes in Orleans Parish, a 60% black parish, including New Orleans, primarily due to the large turnout of black voters in urban areas.
“It’s hard to believe that the video was released during the election with no serious consequences,” Stockley said. “That would have been amazing.”
Governor of Louisiana knew of the fatal arrest situation, but was silent: NPR
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