FARMERVILLE, La. (AP) — Five Louisiana law enforcement officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to state crimes in the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, a death authorities initially blamed on a car crash before long-suppressed body-camera video showed white officers beating, stunning and dragging the Black motorist as he wailed, “I’m scared!”
The arraignment came nearly five months after a grand jury handed up a list of charges ranging from negligent homicide to obstruction and malfeasance, the first indictments related to Greene’s bloody death on a roadside in rural northeast Louisiana.
Greene’s family and several supporters attended the brief proceedings in Union Parish, calling for justice to be served nearly four years after Greene’s death.
“Bring it,” Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, told reporters outside the courthouse.
Charged in the case are four current and former Louisiana State Police troopers and one Union Parish sheriff’s deputy who responded to Greene’s arrest. Facing the most serious charges, including negligent homicide, is Master Trooper Kory York, who was seen on the body-camera footage dragging Greene by his ankle shackles, putting his foot on his back to force him down and leaving the heavyset man facedown in the dirt for more than nine minutes.
The others who face various counts of malfeasance and obstruction include a lieutenant who denied the existence of his body-camera footage, another who exaggerated Greene’s resistance on the scene, a regional state police commander who detectives say pressured them not to make an arrest in the case and a Union Parish sheriff’s deputy heard on the video taunting Greene with the words “s—- hurts, doesn’t it?”
The officers have denied wrongdoing. “Plea bargaining in this case is very unlikely,” said York’s attorney, J. Michael Small.
District Attorney John Belton said no trial date has been set but the officers are expected back in court next month. Greene’s family also met Tuesday with Hugo Holland, a special prosecutor Belton hired to try the high-profile case.
Greene’s May 10, 2019, death on a rural roadside near Monroe was initially blamed by the Louisiana State Police on a car crash at the end of a high-speed chase over a traffic violation. After officials from the governor on down refused for more than two years to release the body-camera video, The Associated Press obtained and published the footage showing white troopers converging on Greene and repeatedly stunning and punching him as he wails, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” A trooper can later be seen dragging the heavyset Greene by his ankle shackles and he is left facedown for more than nine minutes before he eventually goes limp.
The U.S. Justice Department conducted an extensive investigation into Greene’s death and the attempted cover-up but has yet to bring any charges.