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Gov Edwards Will Testify Before Committee Investigating Ronald Greene Death
The request for Edwards' testimony comes days after an AP News report revealing he viewed the arrest video months before prosecutors
Just days after an AP News report revealed that he had seen videos of Ronald Greene’s arrest that were withheld from prosecutors, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive council announced that he will appear before a committee convened to investigate Greene’s murder at police hands.
“We are confident that this testimony will demonstrate that neither the Governor nor anyone on his staff had any role in any attempt to cover up the facts related to Mr. Greene’s death,” Executive Counsel Matthew Block said.
Throughout the investigation, Edwards has maintained that he was not aware of any coverup attempt by the Louisiana State Police regarding Greene’s arrest and death. However, on May 27th, an AP News report revealed that Gov. Edwards and his lawyers viewed body-camera video of Greene’s violent arrest and death at police hands in October 2022.
Medical examiners, detectives, and prosecutors in the case were not told that footage existed for another six months.
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Instead, the footage that was turned over was missing critical moments and audio that was present in the footage shown to Edwards and his lawyers.
“The optics are horrible for the governor. It makes him culpable in this, in delaying justice,” said Rafael Goyeneche, a former prosecutor and president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a watchdog group based in New Orleans. “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing, and that’s what the governor did: nothing.”
Edwards’ attorneys maintain that he did not know that the video he was shown hadn’t been turned over to prosecutors and that the video was held by the LSP, not Edwards’ office.
“I can’t go back and fix what was done,” Block told AP News. “Everybody would agree that if there would have been some understanding that the district attorney did not have a piece of evidence, whether it was a video or whatever it might be, then, of course, the district attorney should have all the evidence in the case. Of course.”
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This is the second time that Gov. Edwards has come under direct scrutiny in the Ronald Greene case. In Feb. 2022, Edwards denied another AP report showing that he intentionally kept quiet after learning of Ronald Greene’s death in May 2019. That reports showed that Edwards was notified within hours that Greene died in police custody after a “violent, lengthy struggle,” with LSP.
In spite of that, Edwards stayed quiet while LSP then offered public accounts that placed the blame on Greene, saying he died after he crashed his vehicle during a police chase. Still, he denies that he had a personal roll in delaying the investigation into Greene’s death.
“Nothing like that has ever happened because of me,” Edwards said. “That is not who I am as a person.”
“I am not going to tell you everything that has happened with the state police since I’ve been governor has been perfect,” Edwards said in a Feb. meeting with the Legislative Black Caucus. “[AP News] is alleging that I have been personally involved in things and I have not.”
Edwards claims that he first learned of the “serious allegations” surrounding Greene’s death in September 2020.
In the three years since Greene’s death, no charges have been filed. In April, Union Parish District Attorney John Belton announced that he plans to impanel a grand jury as quickly as possible now that Justice Department prosecutors dropped their request for him to hold off on state prosecution.
“It is of the utmost importance that the Ronald Greene family and the public as a whole be provided with the complete and truthful answers about what happened to him,” Belton said.
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