May 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Louisiana lawmakers in custody death probe seek ex-police chief's journals

Ronald Greene's family members.

Family members of Ronald Greene listen to speakers during the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" protest against racism and police brutality. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/AFP via Getty Images

A former Louisiana State Police superintendent is facing possible contempt charges for allegedly neglecting to hand over his personal journals related to the investigation into the custody death of Black motorist Ronald Greene, AP reports.

Driving the news: A bipartisan state legislative committee plans to move "as soon as possible" to charge former state police chief Kevin Reeves with contempt to compel him to submit requested documents on Greene's 2019 death, Republican state Rep. Tanner Magee (R-La.), the panel's chair, told AP Monday. Reeves' lawyers say he is cooperating.

  • Reeves has been accused of covering up the initial investigation into Greene's death, ignoring a subpoena and failing to attend a hearing earlier this month involving a trooper he allegedly fired for speaking up about the incident, WBRZ-TV reported.

Context: The journal entries sought by lawmakers were in regards to references Reeves allegedly made to police brutality and Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), per AP.

  • Reeves, who stepped down in 2020, previously called Greene's death "awful but lawful."

What they're saying: "Col. Reeves isn't in contempt of anything," Reeves' lawyer Lewis Unglesby told AP. "He has done nothing but be cooperative."

  • Unglesby claimed he'd readied photocopies from roughly a dozen journal entries for lawmakers investigating Greene's death but alleged Magee "got excited and took off," per AP.
  • "I want to dispute Mr. Unglesby," Magee wrote in response on Twitter Monday. "He denied my request to take the copy of documents he prepared from the journal today. He said I could only take them if I agreed to not seek any more documents."

The big picture: Footage of Greene's interaction with state police, obtained by AP, captured troopers beating and dragging him following a high-speed pursuit nearly three years ago. Troopers also deployed a stun gun on the 49-year-old.

  • Investigators said Greene's death equated to "torture and murder." No state trooper has been criminally charged over his death.
  • Former state trooper Jacob Brown was charged last September with a federal civil rights violation over Greene's death. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law.
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