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As Eugene Collins, NAACP BR president, right, watches, Mona Hardin, mother of Ronald Greene, left, testifies during the second hearing of the Senate Committee on Louisiana State Police Oversight Monday Dec. 13, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La.

In an open letter to Louisiana State Police head Col. Lamar Davis released Thursday, the mother of Ronald Greene reiterated her demands for justice, comparing the agency superintendent to a "besuited Blackface puppet" and questioning his commitment to holding troopers accountable for their efforts to whitewash the brutal 2019 arrest that left Greene dead. 

Mona Hardin, who testified before a Louisiana legislative committee last month, specifically criticized Davis for allowing his second-in-command, Doug Cain, to continue climbing the ranks of State Police despite recent allegations that he played a role in the alleged coverup.

Her letter comes as federal prosecutors are poised to ask a federal grand jury to indict one or more troopers involved in the case. In response to the letter, State Police officials emphasized that the agency continues to cooperate with the ongoing federal probe. 

"I have the utmost confidence in my leadership team and our handling of this investigation during my administration," Davis said in a statement. "LSP personnel will continue to provide assistance into the ongoing review of the incident and we will continue to offer our full cooperation to all investigating authorities."

The agency came under fire after the Greene family filed a lawsuit in 2020. Since then, the family has frequently visited Louisiana from Florida to meet with attorneys and elected officials and protest the inherent racism they believe contributed to his death. 

"During my visits, I have had to repeatedly share space with Doug Cain and bear witness to his well-dressed facade of professionalism," she wrote. Hardin questioned why Cain was promoted to his current high-level position, where he remains, in light of recent revelations that he supported efforts to downplay the actions of troopers involved in the case. Those allegations are contained in investigative notes kept by Sgt. Albert Paxton, the State Police detective who investigated Greene's death. 

Meanwhile, Hardin wrote, Davis is seeking to punish Paxton and Trooper First Class Carl Cavalier, who leaked some of the investigative notes in question. Both have been critical of how top State Police brass reacted to the deadly incident, during which a group of troopers brutally beat and repeatedly stunned an unarmed Greene following a long high-speed police chase north of Monroe. 

In his notes, Paxton claimed that former State Police Superintendent Kevin Reeves, who later retired, waved off the idea of criminal charges, describing the deadly arrest as "awful but lawful."

Paxton submitted his retirement papers Jan. 3, weeks after testifying before the same Senate committee as Hardin, where he argued State Police leaders are pursuing disciplinary action against him because he helped bring the situation to light. 

"I'm being investigated because I won't participate in a coverup … and I won't lie," he testified last month.

Paxton was brought up for disciplinary investigation in August for "dissemination of information to an unauthorized source without proper authority."

Cavalier faces termination for his role in exposing the case after he gave several taped media interviews and published a fictional book about a Black law enforcement officer working for a racist agency. He also sued the department in September claiming racial discrimination.

In her letter to Davis, Hardin praised both Paxton and Cavalier for their "brave actions" and thanked them for helping her uncover the truth. She said State Police officials initially told her Greene died from injuries sustained in a car crash. But leaked bodycam footage later revealed troopers beat him and left him prone for several minutes while he cried out for help.

"The manner in which your agency protects its own considering the wrongdoing is likened to the action of a gang or other entity of organized crime," Hardin wrote. "Colonel Davis, my family and I are waiting for you to do the right thing.

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"We are waiting for you to prove that your agency is more than a gang of thugs willing to die upon a hill of lies. Colonel Davis, we are waiting on you to prove that you are more than an overpaid, besuited Blackface puppet, positioned to continue the coverup."

Davis was appointed superintendent after Reeves stepped down amid a widening scandal surrounding the Greene case and several others, all involving the majority-White Troop F based in Monroe, where Reeves spent most of his State Police career. Davis became the fourth Black superintendent and promised to root out systemic racism inside the agency.

But recently, a fuller chronology from Paxton raises more questions about Cain, who was promoted to lieutenant colonel when Davis became superintendent. In a lengthy summary included in his disciplinary appeal, Paxton wrote that Cain repeatedly pushed aside his concerns about the case.

In December 2020, Paxton wrote, he raised questions about the conduct of Master Trooper Kory York, who received 50 hours of discipline over his role in Greene's physical restraint, which included dragging Greene by his leg shackles and forcing him to stay prone on the ground. 

"He says York has already been punished and we are not going back," Paxton wrote of Cain.

Paxton also told Cain that the damage to Greene's vehicle was inconsistent with the narrative pushed by then-Troop F Commander John Peters, who has since retired, according to the detective's notes. Peters argued Greene died from the crash.

Paxton said Cain responded: "It is my understanding they did not kill Greene."

Paxton wrote in his appeal that Cain, Davis and Faye Morrison, then lead counsel for the state agency, met on May 20, 2021 with Union Parish District Attorney John Belton and two members of his office. In that meeting, Paxton wrote, Cain argued that Greene was only screaming out because a taser probe was being removed.

"Doug Cain defends Lt. (John) Clary and does not want him prosecuted. Lori James says that Doug Cain seems angry the DA is even considering charging Clary," Paxton wrote.

Paxton accuses Clary of hiding his bodycam footage of the fatal arrest, the circumstances of which are now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation. Sources with knowledge of the federal investigation say its reach extends well beyond Greene's death to include allegations of a high-level whitewash. 

Paxton wrote that he was kept out of the loop on that May meeting. The next day, State Police for the first time released bodycam footage of the deadly encounter, including footage from Clary's camera, after the Associated Press first released some of it. 

Belton, who has declined to file charges against any troopers as the federal probe plays out, declined to comment on the meeting.  

In his appeal, Paxton acknowledges developing "a healthy case of paranoia" that led him to document his interactions with superiors in the Greene case. State Police officials, meanwhile, pushed back on the significance of his notes.

"We cannot speculate on the context and inference of Sgt. Paxton's personal investigative notes," State Police spokesperson Lt. Melissa Matey said. "We routinely engage in discussions with investigators and prosecuting authorities on the circumstances surrounding incidents and investigations. The investigation into Mr. Greene's death began the very night of the incident with evidence having been provided to state and federal investigators during the entire process."


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.