In October 2020, Ronald Greene of Monroe, Louisiana was beaten to death by police during a traffic stop. The man’s death wasn’t as concerning to Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards as was the thought of the incident’s bodycam footage being released to the public. With the nation still reeling over the untimely death of George Floyd, he didn’t want his state to be the next hotbed of racial injustice. So he did what any good Democrat would do by sticking the video recording in a desk drawer so no one would find it, but not before making an edited copy of it.
Before hiding the recording, Edwards met with a team of his trusted attorneys. Together, they watched the video as the battered and bloody victim went limp and fell to the ground, gasping for the final breath that ended his life.
The original video was never shown to prosecutors, medical examiners, or even the detectives from the same police department who were investigating the case. None of them had knowledge that another recording even existed.
It would be a full two years before the unedited video was discovered, but even now that it has been, another year has slipped away and the officers involved in Greene’s brutal murder are still out on patrol, unscathed, and for all intents and purposes, still beating up motorists – just trying better not to kill them.
The governor is steering clear of allegations that he had somehow been involved in a coverup attempt. He rebutted the accusations by saying that the evidence in question had been promptly handed over to investigators. He wasn’t lying. He just failed to tell them how crucial moments and certain audio clips had been cut out of it.
The Associated Press conducted its own investigation into the matter and discovered via a series of interviews and relevant documents that the original 30-minute recording had, in fact, not been passed along by Edwards, his staff, nor anyone from the state police.
Initially, the state troopers had blamed Greene’s death on a car crash but this only led to further questions that were never answered. Until now. In the next few weeks, the governor will have his chance to explain his story to a bipartisan legislative committee who will be all ears. So will the good governor’s staff members who Edwards better treat nicely.
Former prosecutor and president of the New Orleans-based watchdog group Metropolitan Crime Commission, Rafael Goyeneche, put it plainly. “The optics are horrible for the governor. It makes him culpable in this, in delaying justice. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. And that’s what the governor did, nothing.”
As expected, Edward’s attorneys are saying the governor didn’t know that the video recording had never been turned over in its entirety. He thought he’d been given a copy. But his story is already riddled with holes.
It doesn’t explain why Edwards panicked upon seeing the recording and immediately called in his team of legal experts. And it certainly does nothing to explain the edited copy that was released to investigators that Edwards surely must have had knowledge of.
Governor Edwards, his staff, and the officers involved in Greene’s death are just steps away from suffering a worse fate than was handed out to the victim in all of this, a young man murdered in his prime by the name of Ronald Greene.
Lawmakers and cops don’t fit in with prison populations very well. It’s been proven in the past.