BR.statepolice.101619 HS 339.JPG

Louisiana State Police headquarters, Tuesday, October 15, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

A former Louisiana State Police commander, whose tenure overseeing the Monroe-based Troop F spanned a series of scandals — including the death of Ronald Greene following a violent encounter with troopers there — announced his impending retirement Monday.

Capt. John Peters, a career state policeman, had already been removed from his Troop F command position earlier this year. He had faced increased public scrutiny in recent weeks following media reports questioning his role in the scandals and alleged coverups.

Leaked emails showed his efforts to stockpile evidence that Greene died from injuries sustained in a car crash following a police chase, not from being beaten, repeatedly tased and forced to stay face down and shackled on a Union Parish roadway after his vehicle struck a tree.

Peters is on terminal leave until he officially retires next month, a State Police spokesperson confirmed Monday evening. Officials were unable to provide additional details about whether Peters was facing discipline.

After transferring Peters out of Troop F, State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis touted the change in leadership, saying it marked an important first step toward addressing issues in the division.

In a recent email to his "Troop F family," Peters explained his decision to leave the agency, saying he had a "phenomenal ride" during his nearly 27 years at State Police.

"Without dragging up the obvious, the time has come for me to depart," he wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by The Advocate. "I have always said there will be highs and lows. We are at a new low."

Peters also complained about "those within our own ranks tearing this agency apart from the inside" and bemoaned "the national sentiment towards law enforcement" and the "anti-police media."

He declared his love for longtime State Police colleagues, saying he took it as a compliment whenever someone told him he was too friendly with his subordinates. He thanked his Troop F colleagues for contributing to a positive work environment.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

"Our friendships have been forged through the good times as well as the bad," he wrote. "While we may not have agreed with each other on every topic, we continued to do what was best for the troop as a whole and the citizens of the state."

In the aftermath of Greene's death, State Police investigators wanted to arrest Chris Hollingsworth, a trooper who was recorded saying he "beat the ever-living f*** out of" Greene. Peters was present during a meeting with top State Police brass when investigators were stonewalled in their attempts to bring criminal charges, according to notes maintained by Albert Paxton, the lead investigator on the case.

Peters later "got mad" when Paxton turned in a report saying Hollingsworth intentionally turned off his body camera, according to the notes.

The Greene incident prompted additional investigations into several other instances of excessive force at Troop F that occurred in 2019 and 2020, all involving Black motorists. The troop, which patrols a diverse area of a dozen parishes in north Louisiana, is overwhelmingly White. 

Peters was Troop F commander from 2018 to 2021. His successor is Capt. Eric Cuenca.

Several other Troop F members have either resigned or been fired from the agency in recent months.

Advocate staff writer John Simerman contributed to this report.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.