Gov. Edwards discusses Ronald Greene case amid growing pressure

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Feb. 1, 2022, addressed a news article published on Jan. 28 by the...
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Feb. 1, 2022, addressed a news article published on Jan. 28 by the Associated Press that claimed the governor knew details about Ronald Greene’s 2019 death while in the custody of the Louisiana State Police two years before he spoke publicly on the matter.(WAFB)
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 1:48 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2022 at 5:48 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB/AP) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards made his strongest statements to date on Tuesday, Feb. 1, about the 2019 death of Ronald Greene.

The Black motorist died following a traffic stop by Louisiana State Police near Monroe.

“I cannot imagine that if Mr. Greene were white he would have been treated that way,” said Gov. Edwards.

The governor made his comments during a news conference called amid growing pressure for him to discuss more about his knowledge of the Ronald Greene case. The governor has faced increasing pressure lately to disclose precisely when he found out that Greene died as a result of his arrest and not from a vehicle crash.

“I’m not here to make excuses for what took place,” the governor said Tuesday.

RELATED: Lawmakers call for transparency around Gov. Edwards and Ronald Greene

“The manner in which Mr. Greene was treated that night was criminal,” he added.

The governor said he also wanted to repeat what he has previously said about the case. That is, he said, that what happened to Ronald Greene was horrific.

“No family should ever have to experience what the Greene family has experienced,” he said.

The governor said he has never done anything to “impede or impair” a police investigation. He said he was informed of the death of Greene, via a text message from State Police, within hours of it happening. But, he said the report was part of routine notifications about “basic facts” he frequently receives about serious law enforcement incidents across the state.

He said any insinuations that he or any of his staff members tried to cover up the serious allegations of the Greene case or intervene in the criminal investigation are false.

“There is not a shred of truth to that,” said Edwards.

Edwards held the news conference following a meeting with the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

Text messages obtained by The Associated Press show Edwards was informed within hours of the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene that troopers engaged in “a violent, lengthy struggle” that ended with the Black motorist’s death. Yet Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards remained publicly quiet as Louisiana State Police clung to a much different story: that Greene died from a crash following a high-speed chase.

The governor said Tuesday the body cam footage of the arrest clearly shows Greene did not die as a result of the crash. Edwards said he has never told anyone that Greene died as a result of the vehicle crash.

Louisiana’s top GOP lawmaker, Clay Schexnayder, said Monday he is weighing legislative action against Edwards for “gross misconduct and the highest level of deceit” in the governor’s response to the Greene case.

“It’s time to find out what happened, who knew what and when, and if anyone has covered it up,” House Speaker Clay Schexnayder told the AP Monday. “The Greene family deserves to know the truth.”

Edwards said any such legislative probe into his actions in the Greene case would be nothing short of a “witch hunt.”

“I never told him (Schexnayder) that Mr. Greene died in a car accident. Never,” emphasized Edwards.

Edwards said claims that he was in any way involved in delaying the disclosure of the facts of the Greene case are simply not true.

“It is not who I am as a person,” he said.


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Copyright 2022 WAFB. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.