DOJ to investigate Louisiana State Police after beatings of mostly Black men

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate the Louisiana State Police after beatings of mostly black men, officials said.

The “pattern or practice” investigation comes amid a growing body of evidence that reveals the agency ignored beatings of black men, including the fatal arrest of Ronald Greene in 2019.

The announcement comes three years after white police officers were seen in body camera footage, which was hidden from the public, beating, stunning and dragging Greene to the side of a rural road near Monroe, Louisiana.

No one was charged in the death, which police first attributed to a car accident despite investigations at the federal and state levels.

The Associated Press found that Greene’s arrest was just one of at least a dozen times during the past ten years that state troopers or their superiors ignored or suppressed evidence of beatings. State police have also been found to deflect responsibility and work to hamper efforts to uncover and eliminate misconduct.

Dozens of current and former police officers said the beatings were supported by a culture of impunity, nepotism and, at times, outright racism.

Soldiers made a habit of turning off or muting body cameras during pursuits. When the footage is recorded, the agency routinely refuses to release it. And a recently retired supervisor who oversaw a particularly violent group of soldiers told internal investigators last year that it was his “common practice” to stamp officers’ reports of use of force without ever reviewing the body camera video.

In this body camera image of Louisiana State Trooper Dakota DeMoss, her colleagues, Kory York, center left, and Chris Hollingsworth, center right, hold Ronald Greene before paramedics arrive on May 10, 2019 outside of Monroe. , There


Soldiers sometimes did not include the use of force in reports, such as blows to the head. The officers also tried to justify their actions by saying that the suspects were violent, resisting or fleeing, all of which were contradicted by video footage.

Black leaders have been pushing the DOJ for months to open an investigation into possible racial profiling by the mostly white state police, similar to other investigations opened last year in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix.

By their own count, 67% of state police uses of force in recent years have been against blacks, who make up 33% of Louisiana’s population.

Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is due to testify before a bipartisan panel of state lawmakers investigating Greene’s death. Edwards and his lawyers privately watched the video showing Greene taking his last breaths during his fatal arrest – footage that didn’t reach prosecutors until nearly two years after Greene’s death on May 10, 2019.

Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether police leaders obstructed justice to protect officers in the Greene case — and whether they tried to hide evidence of officers beating up other black drivers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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