In pages of state police chief’s diary, alarm bells rang soon after Ronald Greene’s death | State policy
The Louisiana State Police commander seemed to quickly realize that Ronald Greene’s death at the hands of state troopers was problematic, new diary entries he provided to a legislative committee show restricted.
The attorney for former Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves this week sent 11 pages of his diary to the House Select Committee investigating Greene’s brutal beatings and death in 2019. The committee had subpoenaed the material and has still intent on scorning Reeves for not complying, the latest in a tense back-and-forth between Reeves’ lawyer and lawmakers investigating the case.
In an entry dated May 22, 2019 – less than two weeks after Greene’s death – Reeves wrote “realizing there is a problem – must be addressed immediately”. He also appeared to be considering the prospect of suspending the soldiers involved in Greene’s death pending a criminal investigation, and noted “adm. leave” and “video audit of Hollingsworth’s history”, suggesting that he was ready from the start to probe the past of Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth. The entry appeared to focus on Hollingsworth’s decision to turn off his camera, with bullet points reading “video problem” and “review past video”.
Hollingsworth is the only soldier implicated in Greene’s death who faced termination for his actions. He died in a car accident in 2020, shortly after learning he would be fired.
The notes are limited to eight dates when Reeves wrote about the Greene case. They did little to appease the committee, which is seeking to review other parts of the diary to see if Reeves’ notes will shed light on who knew what about the case and when.
Pro Tem Chairman Tanner Magee, R-Houma, who chairs the committee, said Thursday he still intends to despise Reeves for not cooperating with committee subpoenas. Magee said he wanted to see more entries around the time of the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd, which sparked a national debate about racism and policing.
“We will despise him; it doesn’t change that,” Magee said.
“The little they gave us, which is not all, demonstrates that at the beginning, Colonel Reeves was aware that there was a significant problem that needed to be solved, but it was never solved. “, said Magee. “That’s the heart of this investigation: why wasn’t it addressed when we knew it was a problem?”
Magee visited the office of Reeves’ attorney Lewis Unglesby earlier in the week to discuss the diary. Magee argues that the committee is entitled to the entire document because Reeves wrote notes on the police work in it.
In his letter to Magee sending selected diary pages, Unglesby wrote that “these are the only entries about Greene, or the various people connected with the events of Greene”.
“You also marked some pages that you were interested in,” Unglesby wrote. “These pages are not about Greene or anything involving Greene. These markings by you have been retained as you selected them but are not being released as they involve names and events unrelated to your committee.
Unglesby did not return calls seeking comment. He said in an earlier interview this week that the diary is full of “to-do lists” and is not a public document.
The legislative committee plans to meet next week to scorn Reeves. The House and Government Affairs Committee would hold a hearing on the contempt charge before sending it to the full House for consideration, at which point Reeves could be hit with a fine, Magee said.
The limited pages provided this week indicate that the incident that led to Greene’s death was not the only time Hollingsworth turned off his camera.
In a lengthy September 2020 entry, days before Hollingsworth was told he would be fired, Reeves appeared to criticize Hollingsworth’s use of cameras in a number of instances.
The notes say there were three instances from May 2020 to August 2020, well after Greene’s death, where Hollingsworth’s body camera was turned off during traffic stops.
Reeves wrote that the cameras give perspective on the incidents and that “he took that away from us”, causing the media and the public to “question the integrity of the LSP in this incident”.
“The turning off of the camera (at) the start of the incident cast a shadow over everything that will happen next,” he wrote.
He also listed violations of the policy, including those related to body-worn and car cameras and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Greene was chained and brutally beaten after a long car chase ended on a dark road in Union Parish on May 10, 2019. His family said they were initially told he was died in a car accident, but this story came to light after the media revealed video footage of soldiers. beat and drag Greene.
During the legislative inquiry, police officials testified that the soldiers’ actions amounted to torture and murder, and that state police leaders covered up the incident. Reeves and other top lieutenants have denied covering up anything.
John Belton, district attorney for Lincoln and Union Parishes, recently said he intends to convene a special grand jury soon to review the indictments of the officers involved in Greene’s death. The US Department of Justice is also investigating the case.