‘I’m scared’: Cop video shows deadly arrest of Black man

Jim Mustian
Associated Press

New Orleans — Louisiana state troopers were captured on body camera video stunning, punching and dragging a Black man as he apologized for leading them on a high-speed chase — footage of the man’s last moments alive that the Associated Press obtained after authorities refused to release it for two years.

“I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” Ronald Greene can be heard telling the White troopers as the unarmed man is jolted repeatedly with a stun gun before he even gets out of his car along a dark, rural road.

This image from video from Louisiana state police state trooper Dakota DeMoss' body-worn camera, shows trooper Kory York bending over with his foot on Ronald Greene's shoulder after he was taken into custody on May 10, 2019, outside of Monroe, La.

The 2019 arrest outside Monroe, Louisiana, is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation. But unlike other in-custody deaths across the nation where body camera video was released almost immediately, Greene’s case has been shrouded in secrecy and accusations of a cover-up.

Louisiana officials have rebuffed repeated calls to release footage and details about what caused the 49-year-old’s death. Troopers initially told Greene’s family he died on impact after crashing into a tree during the chase. Later, State Police released a one-page statement acknowledging only that Greene struggled with troopers and died on his way to the hospital.

Only now in the footage obtained by the AP from one trooper’s body camera can the public see for the first time some of what happened during the arrest.

The 46-minute clip shows one trooper wrestling Greene to the ground, putting him in a chokehold and punching him in the face while another can be heard calling him a “stupid motherf-----.”

Greene wails “I’m sorry!” as another trooper delivers another stun gun shock to his backside and warns, “Look, you’re going to get it again if you don’t put your f------ hands behind your back!” Another trooper can be seen briefly dragging the man facedown after his legs had been shackled and his hands cuffed behind him.

Instead of rendering aid, the troopers leave the burly man unattended, facedown and moaning for more than nine minutes, as they use sanitizer wipes to wash blood off their hands and faces.

“I hope this guy ain’t got f------ AIDS,” one of the troopers can be heard saying.

After a several-minute stretch in which Greene is not seen on camera, he appears again, limp, unresponsive and bleeding from his head and face. He is then loaded onto an ambulance gurney, his arm cuffed to the bedrail.

In many parts of the video, Greene is not on screen, and the trooper appears to cut the microphone off about halfway through, making it difficult to piece together exactly what was happening at all times. At least six troopers were on the scene of the arrest but not all had their body cameras on.

“They murdered him. It was set out, it was planned,” Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, said Wednesday. “He didn’t have a chance. Ronnie didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t going to live to tell about it.”

An attorney for Greene’s family, Lee Merritt, said the footage “has some of the same hallmarks of the George Floyd video, the length of it, the sheer brutality of it.”

“He apologized in an attempt to surrender,” Merritt said.

Louisiana State Police declined to comment on the contents of the video. In a statement, the agency said the “premature public release of investigative files and video evidence in this case is not authorized and … undermines the investigative process and compromises the fair and impartial outcome.”

State Police brass initially argued the troopers’ use of force was justified — “awful but lawful,” as ranking officials described it — and did not open an administrative investigation until 474 days after Greene’s death.

“Police departments have got to stop putting roadblocks up to information that is, in the public’s eye, questionable. They have to reveal all that they know, when they know it,” said Andrew Scott, a former Boca Raton, Florida, police chief who testifies as an expert witness in use-of-force cases. “It suggests that you’re hiding something.”

While noting Greene “was not without fault” and appeared to resist the troopers’ orders, Scott said dragging the handcuffed man facedown by his ankle shackles was “malicious, sadistic, completely unnecessary.”

Charles Key, another use-of-force expert and former Baltimore police lieutenant, questioned the troopers’ decision to leave Greene unattended, handcuffed and prone for several minutes, calling the practice “just dead wrong.”

Greene’s family has filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit.

Greene, a barber, had failed to pull over for an unspecified traffic violation.