NEW ORLEANS (AP) — No longer waiting for a federal investigation that has taken two and a half years so far, a state prosecutor said Thursday that he intends to pursue his potential charges against Louisiana soldiers who was involved in Black’s fatal arrest in 2019. Motorist Ronald Green.
Union Parish District Attorney John Belton told a bipartisan legislative committee investigating the case that US Justice Department prosecutors last week abandoned their request to hold the state’s prosecution until the federal investigation was completed.
And he said Green’s mother, Mona Hardin, also asked him to independently pursue charges against soldiers who were seen speeding up her son in a long-held body-camera video was, jolted him with a stun gun, punched him. Face and dragging her with the shackles of his ankle, he shouted, “I am scared! I am scared!”
“No one is above the law—no one,” Belton told committee members at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. He said that, based on the evidence, the officers “committed criminal acts, including a violation of Mr. Green’s civil rights.”
Belton said he is “moving fast” to enlist a special grand jury as he gathers the most up-to-date evidence from the federal investigation. That includes a re-examined autopsy ordered by the FBI last year that dismissed the soldiers’ initial account that Greene died from injuries sustained in a car accident. Instead it attributes Greene’s death to “physical conflict”, soldiers repeatedly startled her, struck her in the head, barred her at length, and Greene used cocaine.
“It is extremely important that the Ronald Green family and the public as a whole are provided with a full and truthful answer to what happened to them,” Belton said.
To date, almost three years after Green’s May 10, 2019 death by the side of a rural road in northeastern Louisiana, no one has been criminally charged.
Long shrouded in allegations of secrecy and cover-up, it took 474 days for state police to launch an internal investigation into the case, and government officials John Bel Edwards took more than two years to release the soldiers’ body-camera videos. refused. until the Associated Press obtained and published it last year.
That jump triggered an ongoing federal investigation into Greene’s death, which expanded to look at whether state police officers obstructed justice to protect soldiers. An observer recently told the legislative committee that his bosses had instructed him not to provide body-camera footage of Green’s arrest to prosecutors.
Federal investigators are separately investigating other cases that have accused soldiers of beatings and cover-ups, even though they were caught on video.
In Thursday’s hearing, lawmakers repeatedly expressed dismay at how long the federal investigation is taking and the speed at which state police are seeking answers internally.
State Representative Tony Bakala, a Republican, appeared particularly upset when the chief of the Louisiana State Police, Colonel Lamar Davis, said it would take several more weeks to complete the internal investigation of his second-in-command, Lt. Col. Doug Cain, in the midst of a federal investigation to “sanitize” his state’s phone – wiped all data.
“We’re crossing the speed limit,” said Bakala, “and you’re all hitting the road.”
Another tense exchange took place when State Representative Edmund Jordan, a Democrat, questioned Davis about the 120-hour internal suspension given to an attorney for the state’s Department of Public Safety, which also includes the state police. Involved, to let associates know about his part in an internal. State police investigation into beatings of black motorists. It was more than twice the 50-hour internal sentence after Trooper Corey York was seen dragging Green with ankle shackles in a body-camera video.
“It seems that only disciplined people are trying to do the right thing,” Jordan said. “It’s hard to deal with.”
A legislative inquiry into “all levels” of the state’s response to Greene’s death was launched in February after an AP report that Edwards was informed within hours that the soldiers who arrested Greene were involved in a “violent, protracted struggle”. did. Yet Democrats remained silent on the matter for two years as state troops escalated the car accident story.
Edwards has said he did not talk about the soldiers’ actions – even after privately viewing body-camera footage of the arrests – because he did not want to interfere with the federal investigation. He has since come to describe the actions of the soldiers in Green’s arrest as criminal and racist.