Louisiana Police Death Federal Probe

FILE - This undated file photo provided by his family in September 2020 shows Ronald A. Greene. A Louisiana state trooper has been critically injured in a single-vehicle crash hours after learning he faced firing for his role in the in-custody death of Greene in 2019. (Family photo via AP, File)

Ronald Greene was driving on Interstate 20 in Monroe on May 10, 2019, when something happened, and he soon died. Louisiana State Police issued a single-page report saying Greene died when he crashed the vehicle he was driving. But Greene’s family has produced information that suggests something else happened, and that state police were directly responsible for his death.

It’s been nearly 18 months since Greene’s death and the state police have not issued a public explanation about what happened. Although initial reports indicated that Greene might have died because of his own doing, additional information shows he somehow died as the result of a situation involving six Louisiana State Police troopers and a Union Parish Sheriff’s deputy. Only one of the seven was disciplined, and now he has lost his life.

Chris Hollingsworth, one of the troopers, was involved in a 2:30 a.m. vehicle accident Monday in Monroe, he was flown to Ochsner-LSU Health Center in Shreveport where he was in critical condition before dying. According to the Monroe Police Department, local police responded to the scene where Hollingsworth crashed on I-20, eastbound near the Bastrop-Columbia exit, a swerving, double-pronged exit near Monroe. There weren’t many details about what happened early that morning. The accident happened only hours after Hollingsworth learned that State Police intended to terminate him for his role with the Greene death.

After initially saying Greene, 49, was involved in a single-car accident, authorities confirmed that something more had happened. The Greene family started proving something more happened as they filed a wrongful-death lawsuit and shared photographs of Greene and his car. The graphic photographs are not consistent with a single-car crash since his face has deep bruises and the car has limited damage. Was there a scuffle? Resistance? Did officers brutalize Greene, as the family claims?

One way to narrow the possibilities is for the State Police to share body camera video. Despite demands from the Greene family, a number of Monroe-area concerned community members, the Louisiana NAACP and national civil rights and criminal justice activists, the State Police have refused to release the footage — and records related to Greene’s arrest. Gov. John Bel Edwards said earlier this week that though he has not seen the video, it will be released once an ongoing investigation has been completed.

We’re pleased to hear the governor’s promise. The problem is that Greene and Hollingsworth are dead and a family is grieving with unnecessary pain. The time to release the video is now so some important but unanswered questions can be clarified and the investigation can come to a close.