Louisiana State Police Under Federal Investigation for ‘Discriminatory Policing’ of Black Residents
© AP Photo / Rogelio V. SolisA Louisiana State Police sign is seen outside Louisiana State Police Troop F headquarters in Monroe, La., on Aug. 4, 2021. The U.S. Justice Department is opening a “pattern-or-practice” investigation into the Louisiana State Police amid mounting evidence that the agency has looked the other way in the face of beatings of mostly Black men. Officials familiar with the matter told The Associated Press it will be announced later Thursday, June 9, 2022.
© AP Photo / Rogelio V. Solis
Ronald Greene, a 49-year-old unarmed Black man, died in May 2019 after being stunned, wrestled to the ground, punched in the face, and placed in a chokehold by Louisiana state troopers who chased him down in a high-speed chase. The state’s inaction, coupled with a refusal to release body camera footage, prompted recent calls for reform.
The US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has launched a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisiana State Police (LSP) over whether the department engages in “racially discriminatory policing.”
The civil investigation will seek to determine whether the department is in need of reform following a “comprehensive review of LSP policies, training, supervision, and force investigations, as well as LSP’s systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline.”
A September 2021 analysis conducted by the Associated Press determined that “troopers have made a habit of turning off or muting body cameras during pursuits,” and when the footage is recorded, “the agency frequently refuses to release it.”
The outlet found that LSP officers justified their actions in writing by claiming the suspect was violent, resisted, attempted to escape, or was threatening in some other way. Cops also occasionally omitted uses of force–such as strikes to the head–from official filings.
© AP Photo / Louisiana State Police In this July 16, 2019 image from police dashboard camera video, Louisiana State Trooper Jacob Brown throws motorist Morgan Blake to the ground following a traffic stop in Ouachita Parish, La., during which troopers found 13 pounds marijuana in the car Blake was driving. Brown threw Blake to the ground after he asked for his handcuffs to be adjusted. Trooper Randall "Colby" Dickerson then punched Blake five times and kneed him in the side, the footage shows.
In this July 16, 2019 image from police dashboard camera video, Louisiana State Trooper Jacob Brown throws motorist Morgan Blake to the ground following a traffic stop in Ouachita Parish, La., during which troopers found 13 pounds marijuana in the car Blake was driving. Brown threw Blake to the ground after he asked for his handcuffs to be adjusted. Trooper Randall "Colby" Dickerson then punched Blake five times and kneed him in the side, the footage shows.
© AP Photo / Louisiana State Police
Despite prompt requests for the public release of body camera footage, the family of Greene did not receive the requested evidence until some two years after the 49-year-old died from complications related to the beating.
One of two videos released showed Greene being punched in the face by one cop, and hit in the lower back by another trooper after being tased and pulled from his vehicle.
“I beat the ever-living f**k out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” one trooper is overheard saying.
Be advised, the footage below has graphic violence and scenes that may offend some audiences.
The LSP’s initial crash report did not mention use of force, despite Greene being taken to the hospital, where he later died after becoming unresponsive.
It took 474 days for state police to launch an inquiry into the matter, as authorities refused to voluntarily make the footage public.
A separate investigation is underway into the state’s response, including arresting LSP Troopers Chris Hollingsworth and Dakota DeMoss.
Governor John Bel Edwards (D) issued a same-day statement welcoming the federal probe into his state police’s “patterns and practices.”
“It is deeply troubling that allegations of systemic misconduct exist that would warrant this type of investigation, but it is absolutely critical that all Louisianans, especially African Americans and other people of color, have their faith, confidence, and trust in public safety officers restored," Edwards said, noting that he believes the agency “will have complete cooperation” from the LSP
The Democrat also highlighted that he has “full confidence” in Col. Lamar Davis, commander of the LSP, “who has already made great strides in reforming the agency.”
The commander asserted in a separate statement that, although he may believe the “vast majority” of officers meet the state’s professional standards of law, that “does not change the fact that we have had some employees violate the trust of our citizens and of their colleagues.”
“When that occurs, it is incumbent upon our agency to uphold our public safety oath and make the changes necessary to ensure that this does not ever happen again,” Col. Davis said.