5 Louisiana Officers Charged in 2019 Death of Black Driver

More than three years after Ronald Greene died in the custody of the Louisiana State Police, five law enforcement officers have been charged in connection with the violent encounter captured on video in which Mr. Greene, a Black man, was put in a chokehold and punched repeatedly by officers as he cried out for help.

The charges — which include a single count of negligent homicide for one of the five — came from an indictment handed up on Thursday by a state grand jury in Louisiana, officials and lawyers for Mr. Greene’s family said.

The charges are the first to emerge in a case that mobilized activists and drew widespread scrutiny to the state police, as an initial description of Mr. Greene resisting arrest after a high-speed chase was unraveled by body-camera footage. The video, obtained by The Associated Press, showed Mr. Greene saying, “I’m scared!” as an officer repeatedly stunned him with a Taser.

“They need to be held accountable,” Mona Hardin, Mr. Greene’s mother, told reporters after the charges were announced, describing the development as a positive step that must be followed up with successful prosecutions. “Because if not, you’re condoning the killing of Ronald Greene. You’re OK with my son being murdered if you just give a slap on the wrist.”

The state police said on Thursday that two troopers had been placed on administrative leave because of the indictment. One of them, Trooper Kory York, was charged with the most serious offenses, including negligent homicide and 10 counts of malfeasance in office. The other, Lt. John Clary, who was charged with malfeasance in office and obstruction of justice, was the highest-ranking trooper at the scene.

Two others with the state police were also named in the indictment: Trooper Dakota DeMoss was charged with obstruction of justice, and Capt. John Peters was charged with obstruction of justice. Also indicted was Christopher Harpin, a Union Parish sheriff’s deputy, charged with three counts of malfeasance in office.

“Today’s indictments followed a thorough and extensive investigation by state and federal agencies,” Col. Lamar A. Davis, the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said in a statement. “Any instance of excessive force jeopardizes public safety and is a danger to our communities. These actions are inexcusable and have no place in professional public safety services.”

Mr. Greene, 49, had been pulled over just after midnight on May 10, 2019, by state troopers in Union Parish, east of Shreveport in northern Louisiana. The authorities initially said that Mr. Greene had been pursued by troopers because of a traffic violation and that he had refused to stop and resisted arrest. Mr. Greene’s death was ruled accidental and was attributed to cardiac arrest by the Union Parish coroner.

But the encounter was the subject of an investigation by The Associated Press, which obtained and published the body-camera footage. He died after he was beaten, held in a chokehold and left handcuffed and face down for more than nine minutes.

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