A grand jury convened Monday morning in Louisiana’s Union Parish to hear evidence that could lead to charges in the death of Ronald Greene, who died in police custody in 2019, District Attorney John Belton confirmed to ABC News.
Belton, the prosecutor for the Third Circuit, confirmed to ABC News in a phone call Monday night that the grand jury trial in Greene’s case is ongoing and that more evidence will be presented this week.
As the grand jury convened, the Special Committee Inquiring into the Circumstances and Inquiry into Ronald Greene’s Death held a hearing at the Louisiana Capitol on Monday, with Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, among the witnesses.
Hardin told ABC News in a phone interview Monday that she hopes the new development will result in charges being brought against the officers involved in her son’s fatal arrest.
“This is such a travesty … This is almost 2023,” Hardin said. “No one takes responsibility for anything.”
Mona Hardin recounts the events surrounding the death of her son Ronald Greene as she holds a painting of him on December 4, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP, file
Demonstrators protesting the death of Ronald Greene stand outside the Governor’s Mansion after a march from the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La., May 27, 2021. Greene died in 2019 in the custody of the Louisiana State Police.
Gerald Herbert/AP, FILE
Greene, a 49-year-old black man, died in May 2019 after a fight with Louisiana State Police officers. The fight came after a high-speed chase in northern Louisiana near Monroe where Greene failed to stop because of a traffic violation.
The initial police report said Greene died in a car accident, but two years after Greene’s death, in May 2021, the Louisiana State Police released hours of bodycam video evidence that included a violent fight between Greene and police.
“It’s disgusting,” Hardin said, referring to the bodycam footage. “It was visible to everyone.”
When asked about the grand jury trial, a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police (LSP) told ABC News in a statement Monday that “LSP continues to offer our full cooperation in the judicial proceedings.”
“Over the past two years, LSP has made and continues to make fundamental improvements to our operations, training and administration, resulting in the implementation of critical changes across the department and progress in building trust within the communities we serve,” said the speaker.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who previously defended his actions after Greene’s death, declined an invitation to testify before the committee Monday, citing scheduling conflicts, his office confirmed to ABC News.
“On Wednesday, the governor was invited to testify at today’s hearing. Due to the short notice, there are conflicts with previously scheduled events and meetings for the governor, including a public event he will attend out of town. He will not be attending today’s hearing,” an Edwards spokesman said in a statement to ABC News on Monday.
Edwards previously denied delaying or interfering with the investigation into Greene’s death.
“There are implications that I knew more or that one or more of my associates tried to cover up what happened. I will say that is simply and categorically wrong,” Edwards said during a press conference in February. “It’s sad. It’s unfortunate that I’m here in these circumstances and speaking out about these things. But unfortunately it’s inevitable. But we can do better. We have to do better.”
Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the Greene family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisiana state police, told ABC News that authorities initially told the family that Greene died when his car crashed into a tree or shrub during an attempted traffic stop bounced, but the family denied the first report.
The family released photos of Greene after the incident, which appeared to show multiple bruises and lacerations around his face and head.
A Union Parish Coroner’s Office autopsy report obtained by ABC News found blunt force injuries to Greene’s head, neck and torso. The cause of death was listed as “cocaine-induced excited delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury, and restraint.”
Bodycam videos of Greene’s fatal arrest were released two days after The Associated Press obtained bodycam footage of the incident, showing state police officers beating and using a stun gun on Greene after he was chased in northern Louisiana on May 10, 2019 had an accident in his car.
The Louisiana State Police opened an investigation into the case in August 2020, which resulted in the firing of one officer, the suspension of another, and a third who was reprimanded for his involvement in the incident.
“One officer involved in the death, Dakota DeMoss, received reprimand and counseling letters for violating department courtesy and record keeping rules. DeMoss was later arrested for using excessive force in another incident, handcuffing a motorist; he was subsequently shot at in June 2021,” a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police told ABC News. A second Soldier, Chris Hollingsworth, died in a single-vehicle car accident in September 2020, hours after learning he would be fired for his role in Greene’s death. A third soldier, Kory York, was suspended for 50 hours for dragging Greene and improperly turning off his body camera and has since returned to duty.
Amid the ongoing investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division into Greene’s death, Hardin said she will not stop fighting for justice.
“This is my son,” she told ABC News. “I couldn’t breathe a moment longer because I knew I wasn’t doing everything I could.”
ABC News’ Abby Cruz, Nadine El-Bawab, Alexander Mallin, and Anthony Rivas contributed to this report.