New Autopsy Rejects Louisiana Cops’ Claims That Ronald Greene Died In A Car Crash

Update (Nov. 2, 2021): An autopsy report ordered by the FBI revealed Louisiana State Police’s assertion that Ronald Greene died in a deadly car crash during a high-speed chase is untrue. According to AP News, prosecutors are now turning to the body camera video that shows several police officers brutally beating, tasing and pulling on Greene’s body. 

Police originally told Greene’s family that the motorist died tragically in a car crash after officers chased him down. Though, they didn’t buy the story from the police since his car didn’t appear to have significant damage. The FBI commissioned another forensic review after the body camera footage was released as state police also withheld the vehicle’s black box data and other evidence from Greene’s first autopsy.

Now, the new information has led officials to believe Greene’s death was caused by a number of factors including the beating he faced from troopers and his cocaine use. 

In the new review, “agitated delirium” and the crash are both removed as possible causes of death in Greene’s case. A source with an understanding of the findings told the outlet that the second study also answers that the deployment of Greene’s airbags couldn’t have caused the rupturing of Greene’s aorta or his fractured breastbone. Investigators found those injuries were likely caused by first responders who attempted resuscitation. 

It remains unclear if the Union Parish coroner would change the manner of death from accident to homicide, which could affect the charges the Louisiana State Police could face for Greene’s death. The move by the FBI to order a second autopsy and review comes amid the office’s two-year investigation into Greene’s death. Officials have since started looking into the cases of other Black motorists from the state, and whether higher-ups also took illegal measures to protect troopers from prosecution.

Original (Oct. 19, 2021): The family of a Black man who died in Louisiana State Police custody is learning new details about the death of their loved one after seeing video evidence more than a year later.

The Associated Press reports footage shows officers abusing Ronald Greene, shocking him with stun guns multiple times, choking him and dragging him face-down across the pavement after a car chase in May of 2019.

Greene’s mother and sister sobbed while seeing the video on Wednesday during a meeting with Gov. John Bel Edwards. 

“This family has been lied to the entire time about what happened,” civil rights attorney Lee Merritt told the AP.  “The video was very difficult to watch. It’s one of those videos like George Floyd and even Ahmaud Arbery where it’s just so graphic.”

Authorities initially blamed Greene’s death on injuries resulting from a collision at the end of the high-speed chase. The department also waited more than a year to fire Chris Hollingsworth, one of the officers involved in the incident. Hollingsworth died in a car crash last month, a few hours after getting fired.

Earlier this month, the AP obtained an audio clip which revealed disturbing comments from Hollingsworth’s body-camera.

“I beat the ever-living f**k out of him,” the former deputy says to his colleague in the clip.

Merritt said Greene didn’t try to flee after the high-speed chase, but one officer placed a foot on the 49-year-old “while another hogties him.”

The attorney said one officer referred to Greene as a “stupid son of a b***h” while another said “we shouldn’t tase him any more.”

“Ronald immediately surrendered at his first contact with law enforcement. When the vehicle stopped, he put his hands up and said, ’I’m sorry,’” Merritt said. “His dying words were, ‘I’m sorry.’”

According to a medical report, obtained by AP, an emergency room doctor expressed doubt about the officers’ account of Greene’s death, having seen the bruised and bloodied man with two stun-gun prongs in his back when he arrived at the hospital.

“Does not add up,” Dr. Omokhuale Omokhodion wrote in the report.

The officers’ account to the family stated that Greene died on impact after crashing into a tree. According to Omokhodion’s report, however, police said the former barber “had been involved in a fight and struggle with them where he was tased three times.”

The medical report also stated that Greene was “said to have been intoxicated” and “driving in excess of 110 mph.” The State Police crash report doesn’t mention anything about the officers using force or taking Greene into custody, but refers to the collision with the tree as the “the most harmful event” in the crash.

Despite pressure from organizations such as the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, the governor has chosen to hide the footage from the public. Edwards said state and federal prosecutors believe it “would be detrimental for that video to be made public while it is in fact evidence that they are considering.”

In an interview with ABC News, Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, said thinking about the tragedy takes her “right back to day one.”

“It’s like I haven’t awakened from this bad dream,” she said. 

The family released photos of their loved one from the incident, showing him with multiple bruises and lacerations around his face and head.

“His death certificate and this video are two different stories. It’s horrific. I can’t close my eyes and not see my son and what they did to him,” Hardin said. “I find it hard to sleep. It was hard before; it’s even harder now. It’s unbelievable that this has gone this long.”

Dozens of unsolved cases of police brutality have come to the forefront in recent months amid the nationwide outcry for social justice. As Blavity previously reported, advocates are fighting for justice for people like Javier Ambler, a Black Texas man who was killed by police when they tased him multiple times as he said, “I have congestive heart failure. I have congestive heart failure. I can’t breathe.”

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