Louisiana Governor. John Bel Edwards met with his top lawyers in October 2020 in a state police conference to plan for the fallout of a more troubling case: the death of Ronald Greene by troopers.
They watched the crucial body-camera footage of the Black motorist's violent arrest in private. It showed a bruised, bloody Greene falling limp and drawing his last breaths. This footage was not known by prosecutors, detectives, or medical examiners for six more months.
Although the Democratic governor denied any cover-up of the explosive case and claimed that evidence was quickly turned over to authorities by claiming it, an Associated Press investigation based upon interviews and records revealed that the 30-minute video he viewed did not prove this. Edwards, his staff, and the state police that he supervises didn't act quickly enough to get the critical footage to those who have the power to charge the white troopers, seen punching, dragging Greene.
The video, which contained audio and critical moments that were missing from other footage, didn't reach prosecutors for nearly two years after Greene died on a rural roadside in Monroe, May 10, 2019. After three years, no criminal charges have been filed despite ongoing, lengthy federal and state investigations.
"The governor's optics are terrible. "It makes him culpable for this, in delaying justice," Rafael Goyeneche said. He is a former prosecutor and president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission in New Orleans.
Goyeneche said, "All it takes to make evil triumph is for good people to do nothing." "And that's exactly what the governor did. Nothing."
Questions about what the governor knew and when it was known, as well as his actions regarding an in-custody death troopers initially attributed to a car accident, have been a problem for Edwards' administration for months. Edwards and his staff will be called to testify under oath before the bipartisan legislative committee investigating the case and possible cover-up.
Edwards' lawyers claim that there was no way the governor could have known at the moment that the video he had just watched was not already turned over to prosecutors. There was also no attempt by either the governor or his staff, to withhold evidence.
However, the governor's lawyers didn't mention the video during a meeting with state prosecutors just days later. They wouldn't get the footage until six months after a detective found it almost accidentally. The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment but Col. Lamar Davis from the state police said that his records showed that the video was handed over to federal authorities around the same time in April 2021.
Edwards is a Louisiana lawyer who comes from a long lineage of sheriffs. He declined to meet with the AP for an interview. Matthew Block, his chief counsel, told the AP that Edwards' evidence was not acceptable to be made available to the governor, and not to those who were investigating the case. Also, the staff of the governor stressed that Edwards' office and not state police actually had the video.