Police in the US state of Louisiana have released footage showing the violent arrest two years ago of a Black man who was dragged out of his car, shackled and beaten, renewing calls for an end to police violence against Black people in the United States.
The Associated Press news agency earlier this week released previously unseen body-camera footage showing Louisiana state troopers stunning, punching and dragging Ronald Greene as he apologised for leading them on a high-speed chase.
The May 2019 arrest outside Monroe, Louisiana, is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.
Greene’s case has been shrouded in secrecy and accusations of a cover-up as Louisiana officials previously rebuffed repeated calls to release footage and details about what caused the 49-year-old’s death.
Police had initially said Greene had died after crashing into a tree during the chase. They later said Greene struggled with troopers and died on his way to hospital.
The latest revelations in Greene’s case come just days before the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, who was held down for about nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and whose death sparked a nationwide protest movement.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s killing in a widely watched trial last month – a verdict that was hailed as an important step forward in the fight for racial justice in the US.
Greene – who was beaten and shackled by the officers – desperately tried to roll over but was ordered to stay on his stomach, the video of the 2019 arrest shows.
“OK, OK. I’m sorry. I’m scared. Officer, I’m scared, I’m your brother, I’m scared,” Greene says as at least two troopers attempt to drag him out of the vehicle, US news outlet CNN reported.
A trooper wrestled him to the ground, placed him in a chokehold and punched his face, while another dragged him by shackles on his ankles. He was tased again while lying on the ground in handcuffs.
“There’s no words for how mad I am,” Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, told CNN. “I’m disgusted. They took pleasure in torturing my son.”
A long-secret autopsy report, also newly secured, cited Greene’s head injuries and the way he was restrained as factors in his 2019 death, the AP said. It also noted he had high levels of cocaine and alcohol in his system as well as a broken breastbone and a torn aorta.
“I beat the ever-living f*** out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Trooper Chris Hollingsworth can be heard telling a fellow officer in the newly obtained batch of video. “All of a sudden he just went limp … I thought he was dead.”
Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington, DC, said the Greene family has accused Louisiana authorities of a cover-up.
“The family were told that Ronald Greene was killed in a car accident. What we can clearly see from the video is that that is simply not the case,” Fisher said.
“He was stopped because of what the police say was a traffic violation. He put one hand up, he was compliant with the police officers, yet he was still tased, dragged out of the car, violently arrested, and at one point – even with his feet shackled – he was dragged by the police.
“Now as he lay prone on the ground … he was complaining and he was moaning. But the police there ignored him for a full nine minutes. When medics arrived, they found he was unresponsive, and within a few minutes of arriving in hospital, he was declared to be dead,” Fisher said.
The family, as well as US civil rights groups, have demanded accountability for what happened.
“For two years, Louisiana State Police refused to release this footage – and now we know why,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana tweeted on Friday.
“We need accountability for these officers, federal oversight of the Louisiana State Police, and transformational reforms to policing writ large.”
For two years, Louisiana State Police refused to release this footage – and now we know why.
We need accountability for these officers, federal oversight of the Louisiana State Police, and transformational reforms to policing writ large.https://t.co/vD9yhXCYsk
— ACLU of Louisiana (@ACLUofLouisiana) May 21, 2021