The U.S. Justice Department is opening a sweeping civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police amid mounting evidence that the agency has a pattern of turning a blind eye in the face of beatings of mostly Black men, including the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene in 2019.
The federal “pattern-or-practice” probe followed by an Associated Press investigation uncovered dozens of cases over the past decade, including Greene’s arrest, where state police troopers or their bosses concealed or ignored evidence of beatings, deflected blame, and impeded efforts to root out misconduct.
The AP investigation revealed troopers have a habit of muting or turning off their body cameras during pursuits.
When footage is recorded, the agency routinely refuses to release it.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who oversees the Justice Department’s civil rights division said:
We find significant justification to open this investigation now.
We received information of the repeated use of excessive force, often against people suspected of minor traffic offenses, who are already handcuffed or are not resisting.
She added there were also reports of troopers targeting Black residents in traffic enforcement and using “racial slurs and racially derogatory terms.”
In the case of 49-year-old Ronald Greene, footage from a state trooper’s body camera showed officers beating, dragging, and shocking him with a stun gun as he apologized to them after a high-speed chase in Monroe, Louisiana.
Louisiana State police reportedly told Greene’s family that he died on impact after driving into a tree.
The state police refused to release the officers’ body camera footage of the incident for two years.
It wasn’t until the footage was leaked to the Associated Press that the agency publicly acknowledged Robert had struggled with officers during the arrest.
Sadly, no one has been charged with his death.