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The former police chief of La. faces contempt in Ronald Greene inquiry

BATON ROUGE, La. – Lawmakers investigating the fatal arrest of black motorist Ronald Greene voted unanimously Wednesday to scorn the former Louisiana state police chief for defying a subpoena and refusing to release the handwritten journals he kept, when he ran the state’s premier law enforcement agency.

The decision to charge former Colonel Kevin Reeves with contempt — and pay him a $5,000 fine — marks a dramatic escalation in the bipartisan committee’s 2019 investigation into the alleged cover-up of Greene’s death. If so, by the entire State House if confirmed, will allow lawmakers to ask a court to compel Reeves to turn over three handwritten diaries.

The vote comes a day after the three-year anniversary of the fatal arrest at a rural roadside outside of Monroe, where soldiers beat, drugged and dragged Greene after a high-speed chase.

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Reeves’ attorney, Lewis Unglesby, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Unglesby has claimed that Reeves worked with the committee, but maintains that all but 11 pages of the former police commissioner’s diaries are unrelated to Greene’s death and therefore need not be turned. Members of the committee investigating Greene’s death said Wednesday the documents are public records.

The resolution to despise Reeves next goes to another committee where Reeves can mount a defense and then, if confirmed there, to a House vote. It’s extremely rare for Louisiana lawmakers to issue subpoenas, much less despise someone for defying one, and the timeline for attempting to enforce one against Reeves was not immediately clear.

Authorities notified grieving relatives and released initial reports that 49-year-old Greene died in a car accident. The Associated Press obtained a long-held bodycam video last year that showed what really happened: Soldiers swarmed from Greene’s car, repeatedly drugged him, hit him on the head, pulled his shackles and left him for more than nine years lying on the floor log. At times, Greene could be heard begging for mercy and wailing, “I’m your brother! I am scared! I am scared!”

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Reeves, who called Greene’s death “horrific but legal” and resigned amid criticism in late 2020, has sought to downplay his own involvement in the case. But the 11 pages of his diary turned over to the committee last week show he was aware of the potential fallout within days of Greene’s death.

“Recognizing there is a problem – needs to be addressed immediately,” Reeves wrote in a section that listed a number of possible steps, including suspending or furloughing soldiers and launching an internal investigation into the case.

But 462 days would elapse before state police launched an internal investigation into the soldiers involved, including one who boasted about “knocking the ever-living f—aus” out of Greene.

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The bipartisan Legislative Committee was formed in February in response to an AP report in which Reeves informed Gov. John Bel Edwards within hours that soldiers arresting Greene were engaged in a “violent, protracted struggle.” But the Democrat remained mostly silent on the case for two years as state cops continued to advance the car accident theory that was later debunked by an FBI-commissioned new autopsy.

Lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday from retired state police commanders who described their “disgust” and “embarrassment” after first seeing the vivid footage of Greene’s death. Adam White, a retired lieutenant colonel, called it “probably the most shocking video I’ve seen.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/05/11/former-la-police-boss-faces-contempt-in-ronald-greene-probe/ The former police chief of La. faces contempt in Ronald Greene inquiry

Justin Scacco

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