We don’t like Louisiana being known nationally as a place where people are regularly assaulted or killed under any circumstance, but certainly not by our own Louisiana State Police. Led by The Associated Press, national media has focused on the case of Ronald Greene, in which Monroe-based Troop F officers chased then beat the man. He died.
BASTROP — For Ronald Greene, this sleepy town north of Monroe offered new beginnings and familiar pitfalls.
There's more. Much more.
The same State Police unit beat another man, Aaron Larry Bowman, not far from his Monroe home — and not long after they beat Greene. They hit Bowman 18 times with a flashlight. He survived.
State Police beat up another man, Morgan Blake, during a 2019 suspicion of marijuana arrest. They slammed him against a vehicle, threw him onto the ground and beat him. They lied, saying he tried to escape.
Turns out State Police hit a Hispanic truck driver in 2010 near Interstate 12 in Tangipahoa Parish, too.
When protests erupted following the 2016 fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana State Police Trooper Carl Cavalier …
With focused, deep reporting, The Associated Press has continued to uncover disturbing internal proof that troopers hid abuses to avoid discipline or charges. State Police leadership did very little.
Though Greene is dead, there have been no arrests or charges in the Greene case as the State Police have declined to arrest one of their own on their own. One of the involved troopers was told that he was being fired and he died in a single-car crash soon after. The Bowman incident was not investigated by State Police for more than a year, after a lawsuit by Bowman.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has voiced confidence in Superintendent Lamar Davis, who took over after the initial scandals. Four troopers or ex-troopers have been arrested — but not charged — in state courts in three of the incidents, those involving Bowman, Blake and another man, Antonio Harris.
The Associated Press acquired a number of State Police bodycam and patrol vehicle videos of several incidents, so these accounts are not based on anonymous sources or the memory of a single eyewitness. Nearly all of those beaten were Black. Of the times force has been used in the state trooper incidents reviewed by the AP, 67% of those situations have involved Black people. That’s double the Black population percentage in Louisiana.
U.S. Rep. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, the ACLU of Louisiana and the Urban League of Louisiana are among a number of individuals and organizations calling for a pattern-and-practice investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The department has been conducting them for years, in small and large law enforcement agencies. These investigations often conclude with agencies deciding to cooperate and to agree to reforms. Or the U.S. DOJ can sue agencies to make changes.
We continue to be dismayed by such long delays in discovery of video evidence. During his regular monthly radio program Wednesday afternoon, Edwards said allegations that there's been a cover-up are overblown, in part because the district attorney and the Justice Department asked that the videos not be released. He said he finds some of the trooper actions criminal but he said "as to whether those criminal actions were the cause of death" is a question for prosecutors.
We would like to see the governor demand accountability and take actions to show he means it. Davis must send a stronger signal to his troops — and to the public — so everyone can hear that this type of law enforcement is unacceptable.
We welcome a probe by the U.S. Justice Department. However, there are things that can — and must — happen under the leadership of Edwards and Davis. Edwards and Davis don’t need to wait.
Eight years after a man died following a violent encounter with Baton Rouge narcotics officers, the parish Metro Council heard from a host of …