‘Where’s Ronald Greene’s justice?’: 5 years on, feds still silent on Black motorist’s deadly arrest

Mona Hardin has been waiting five long years for any resolution to the federal investigation into her son’s deadly arrest by Louisiana State Police troopers, an anguish only compounded by the fact that nearly every other major civil rights case during that time has passed her by.

It took just months for Tyre Nichols’ beating death last year to result in federal charges against five Memphis police officers. A half-dozen white lawmen in Mississippi have been federally sentenced in last year’s torture of two Black suspects. And federal prosecutors long ago brought swift charges in the slayings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

Every one of those cases happened months or years after the death of Greene in northern Louisiana on May 10, 2019, which sparked national outrage after The Associated Press published long-suppressed body-camera video showing white troopers converging on the Black motorist before stunning, beating and dragging him as he wailed, “I’m scared!”

Yet half a decade after Greene’s violent death, the federal investigation remains open and unresolved with no end in sight. And Hardin says she feels ghosted and forgotten by a Justice Department that no longer even returns her calls.

“Where’s Ronald Greene’s justice?” asked Hardin, who refuses to bury her son’s cremated remains until she gets some measure of accountability. “I still have my boy in that urn, and that hurts me more than anything. We haven’t grieved the loss of Ronnie because we’ve been in battle.”

Justice Department spokesperson Aryele Bradford said the investigation remains ongoing and declined to provide further details.

Under federal law, no statute of limitations applies to potential civil rights charges in the case because Greene’s arrest was fatal. But prosecutors have wavered for years on whether to bring an indictment, having all but assured Greene’s family initially that an exhaustive FBI investigation would produce charges of some kind.

A federal prosecution seemed so imminent in 2022 that one state police supervisor told AP he expected to be indicted. The FBI had shifted its focus in those days from the troopers who left Greene handcuffed and facedown for more than nine minutes to state police brass suspected of obstructing justice by suppressing video evidence, quashing a detective’s recommendation to arrest a trooper and pressuring a state prosecutor.

All the while, federal prosecutors asked local District Attorney John Belton to hold off on bringing state charges until the federal investigation was complete. They later reversed course, and in late 2022 a state grand jury indicted five officers on counts ranging from negligent homicide to malfeasance. Charges remain against only two, with a trial scheduled for later this year for a senior trooper seen on video dragging Greene facedown by his ankle shackles.

State police initially blamed the 49-year-old’s death on a crash following a high-speed chase over a traffic violation, an explanation called into question by photos of Greene’s body on a gurney showing his bruised and battered face, a hospital report noting he had two stun gun prongs in his back and the fact that his SUV had only minor damage. Even the emergency room doctor questioned the troopers’ initial account of a crash, writing in his notes: “Does not add up.”

All that changed two years later when AP published graphic body-camera video of Greene’s final moments, showing him being swarmed by troopers even as he appeared to raise his hands, plead for mercy and wail, “OK, OK. I’m sorry” and “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” Troopers repeatedly jolted Greene with stun guns before he could even get out of the car, with one of them wrestling him to the ground, putting him in a chokehold and punching him in the face, Another called him a “stupid motherf——.” They then ordered a shackled Greene to remain facedown on the ground, even as he struggled to prop himself up on his side.

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