5 Officers Charged in 2019 Death of Black Driver Ronald Greene, Who Was Punched, Dragged by Cops

Ronald Greene was stopped by six Louisiana State Police officers before he was beaten, tasered and restrained facedown in shackles

Five Louisiana State Police officers present during the 2019 roadside death of Ronald Greene have been indicted, multiple outlets report.

The charges range from negligent homicide to malfeasance. One trooper, Chris Hollingsworth, was considered the most aggressive officer during the May 10, 2019, incident, according to NPR, but he died in 2020, so only the five living officers have been indicted.

Louisiana State Police originally claimed Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, died from injuries sustained in a minor car crash that occurred when he was at the wheel. However, an FBI-ordered autopsy review in 2021 revealed that other factors had in fact caused his death — including officers' forcibly restraining Greene for nine minutes, during which time he suffered blows to the head. Officers also dragged Greene along the road.

This undated photo provided by his family in September 2020 shows Ronald Greene
Ronald Greene. Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Greene's autopsy refocused the investigation on the troopers present, while dispelling the claim by police that a car accident caused Greene's fatal injuries.

The bloodied Greene was pronounced dead at a hospital after medics who responded to the scene found him unresponsive.

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At first, Greene's family was told he died in the purported car accident, according to The Washington Post. A coroner's report even recorded Greene's cause of death as a motor vehicle accident. But officer-worn camera footage from the incident, released last year by the Associated Press — which never revealed its source — showed Greene pleading for his life as he was restrained face-down in ankle shackles, tasered with a stun gun, punched in the face and dragged along the road.

"I'm your brother! I'm scared! I'm scared!" Greene yelled on the tape, pleading for mercy from the officers.

protest Ronald Greene
Signs called attention to Ronald Greene's case at a March on Washington in August 2020. MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty

An AP investigation also revealed a number of similar cases in which state troopers allegedly hid or failed to address beatings which seemed to largely target Black men.

In Greene's case, the shocking video release was a long time coming; it had allegedly been suppressed for years by Louisiana State Police. Eventually, a federal investigation began to probe both the officers' conduct and the way the department may have purposefully obstructed justice in efforts to hide that conduct.

The Justice Department's ongoing investigation has been trying to determine whether the officers in Greene's case acted "willfully," but it remains unclear whether that investigation will lead to new charges.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Greene's family, previously said the video's release had only reinforced their desire for justice. "This was a malicious attack on the side of the road on a fully surrendered man," Merritt said after the video's release, according to the Post.

Ronald Greene protest
Sean Greene, brother of Ronald Greene, at a Washington, D.C., march against police brutality Aug. 28, 2020. Michael M. Santiago/Getty

"He was perfectly fine when the car came to a stop," Merritt separately told The New York Times. "He wasn't apparently injured at all. It's obvious from these videos he was brutalized and tortured for about 15 minutes."

For her part, Greene's mother, Mona Hardin, said her family was "excited" about the officers' current indictments, but questioned whether the involved men will "actually … pay for it," according to NPR.

Per CNN, trooper Kory York was indicted on one count of negligent homicide and 10 counts of malfeasance in office; Union Parish Deputy Chris Harpin was indicted on three counts of malfeasance in office; LSP Lt. John Clary was indicted on one count of malfeasance in office, as well as one count of obstruction of justice; former trooper Dakota DeMoss was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice; and John Peters, former LSP commander, was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice.

Two of the troopers have been placed on administrative leave in the wake of the charges: Kory York and John Clary.

"The ACLU of Louisiana is calling for the termination and decertification of all officers indicted in Mr. Greene's killing," ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Alanah Odoms says in a statement provided to PEOPLE. "If this type of violent behavior is left unchecked, it will certainly result in more brutality and more deaths."

In a statement to PEOPLE, Colonel Lamar A. Davis, the 26th Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police said, "The indictments followed a thorough and extensive investigation by state and federal agencies. Any instance of excessive force jeopardizes public safety and is a danger to our communities." Davis also says the department has made "fundamental improvements" to its operations in the past two years.

The officers' lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment, and their pleas to the charges against them are unclear. PEOPLE was not able to immediately reach Hardin.

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