BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — There was a new testimony on Thursday in the House Special Committee to Inquire into the Circumstances and Investigation of the Death of Ronald Greene.
The committee heard from a north Louisiana district attorney who is leading the criminal investigation into Greene’s death for the first time.
District Attorney John Belton of Lincoln and Union parishes testified before the panel and said he will be looking to seek state charges for those responsible for the death of Ronald Greene.
“It’s like the nails that stick out, get hammered down, so nobody wants to speak out because if you look at these actions, those are the only people that are getting hammered down,” said State Rep. Edmond Jordan.
Sentiments like Edmond’s come from lawmakers, who question how the head of Louisiana State Police Colonel Lamar Davis is handling the discipline of certain staff and his oversight of the internal investigation of his right-hand man.
“We really need to look into this because we got the fox watching the henhouse,” stated State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle.
They stated that because of LSP’s lengthy internal investigations, people are getting away without facing the consequences of their actions. For example, many legislators believe those under investigation, including Lieutenant Colonel M. Doug Cain, should not be interacting with the public and, instead, be on paid leave.
“Almost three years later, the only person to really receive any discipline as a part of a State Police IA investigation is an attorney who is part of an audit team,” said State Rep. Tanner Magee.
He was referring to a suspended Department of Public Safety lawyer, Jennifer Murray, who was accused of discussing details with others about an LSP audit in relation to the Ronald Greene case.
Representatives were also frustrated because they are still looking for answers to internal investigations, such as the reason why the second-in-command Lt. Col. Doug Cain had his phone wiped.
“We’re exceeding the speed limit and you all are putting down the road. I feel that way right now. So I think there is an urgency that we get to the end of this at some point,” stated State Rep. Tony Bacala.
“We will finish with this investigation prior to the session being over with. This is something that’s important to us, just like it’s important to you all. And it may not seem like that, but it is. We just have certain processes that we’ve got to follow,” Davis responded.
District Attorney Belton spoke publicly for the first time to the committee and left no doubt as to what he believes happened to Ronald Greene.
“I believed state and federal crimes were committed,” he said.
Belton said all he wants is justice for the Greene family.
“The video I saw of Mr. Ronald Greene while in the custody of State Police is the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” he added.
He confirmed Greene’s wreck was not what caused his death and said the U.S. Department of Justice has given him the green light to pursue charges at the state level.
“I got a call from U.S. Attorney Brandon Brown last week, and he shared with me that they decided to allow me to move forward with the state charges,” said Belton.
He said the Department of Justice gave him the go-ahead to seek state charges, but there’s no timeline for when that will be done. However, Belton did say he intends on moving swiftly towards initiating an investigation.