Lawmakers seek diaries of police bosses in Ronald Greene Probe | USA News®

By JAKE BLEIBERG and JIM MUSTIAN, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Lawmakers investigating the fatal arrest of black motorist Ronald Greene are preparing to scorn the former Louisiana state police chief for refusing to hand over his logs after the failed talks on Monday in a dispute over an entry mentioning police brutality and Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The bipartisan committee will act ‘as soon as possible’ to hold Kevin Reeves in contempt and initiate legal action to force him to hand over three handwritten diaries he kept while leading the beleaguered agency, the US rep said. ‘State Tanner Magee, who chairs the panel. The Associated Press.

To hold the former head of the state’s premier law enforcement agency in contempt would mark a drastic escalation on the part of the committee, which has already obtained explosive testimony from current police officials that they believe Greene’s 2019 death was covered up and that his beating by soldiers after a high-speed chase amounted to “torture and murder”.

Reeves’ lawyer, Lewis Unglesby, said he had prepared photocopies of nearly a dozen diary entries to hand to Magee at a meeting, but the lawmaker “got excited and took off. “without documents.

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“Col. Reeves despises nothing,” Unglesby told AP. “He didn’t do anything but be cooperative.”

The committee formed in February after an AP report that Edwards was told within hours that the soldiers arresting Greene had engaged in a “prolonged violent struggle”. Yet the Democrat remained virtually silent on the matter for two years as state troopers told Greene’s family and wrote in reports that he died of a car crash. car after a high-speed chase outside Monroe.

The governor said he refrained from speaking about the soldiers’ actions – even after privately viewing footage of the arrest with a graphic body camera – due to an ongoing federal investigation. He has since called the actions of the soldiers involved criminal and racist.

Last year, AP obtained and released the long-held body camera video that showed what really happened: soldiers shaking Greene with stun guns, punching him in the face and dragging him by ankle shackles. as he moaned, “I am your brother!” I’m afraid! I’m afraid!”

The eight-member legislative panel has been interviewing state police and other officials for weeks in an effort to piece together the agency’s handling of the case. Last week, a senior state police official told lawmakers he was “mystified” that no soldier had yet faced criminal charges in Greene’s death. Another senior official issued an extraordinary apology to Greene’s family, describing the 49-year-old’s fatal arrest as “a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life”.

Lawmakers said they intended to investigate what Edwards knew and when he knew it, but no one on his team has yet been called to testify.

Reeves, who described Greene’s death as “horrific but legal” and resigned in late 2020 amid criticism, has sought to downplay his own involvement in the case. He told lawmakers in March he had a follow-up conversation with Edwards about Greene’s death — regarding the coroner’s initial findings — but said the two did not discuss the matter “of thoroughly” before the end of 2020, when news of Greene’s abuse and a federal civil rights investigation surfaced in the media.

In his testimony, Reeves also revealed that he kept a diary with contemporaneous notes even after retiring as superintendent, but did not commit to providing them to the committee.

“My diary is my personal business,” he said, “and I’m not here to discuss it.”

Lawmakers issued a subpoena for the papers in April, days after Reeves’ attorney wrote a letter refusing to voluntarily hand them over, citing privacy and security concerns.

Magee, a Republican, said he sat down at Unglesby’s desk on Monday to discuss which parts of the “three little moleskin papers” were relevant to the committee’s investigation. During the meeting, the attorney was willing to provide entries mentioning Greene by name, but resisted even showing Magee other parties without justification, the lawmaker said.

The talks broke down on June 17, 2020, an entry that Magee said mentioned the governor by name along with notes on how to handle body camera footage and police brutality in the future.

Magee said he believes the entry – which was made around the time protests over the killing of George Floyd were erupting across the country – may be linked to Greene’s death. But he said Unglesby denied that and refused to hand it over, describing it as “just a random discussion of police brutality”.

“So I told him we were going to pursue contempt charges,” Magee said.

Unglesby said he then emailed and faxed the entries he originally prepared for posting to Magee, but withheld some entries that involve “names and events” unrelated to the scope of the committee. He refused to release the documents to AP.

A spokesperson for the governor said Edwards likely saw Reeves on June 17, 2020, but they did not discuss Greene. She noted that a legislative committee held a hearing on policing matters on that date and said the governor only learned of “the serious allegations surrounding the death of Mr. Greene in September 2020.” .

Magee said the way Reeves’ diary was written – “like a to-do list” – made it hard to tell what the entries meant and that he only saw a fraction of it.

“I think it’s premature to bring charges,” he said. “But I think it’s important that we get the documents to put it in context.

Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

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