(NEW YORK) — A grand jury convened on 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 district attorney for the Third Judicial District, confirmed to ABC News in a phone call Monday evening that grand jury proceedings in Greene’s case are ongoing and evidence will continue to be presented this week.
As the grand jury convened, the Special Committee to Inquire into the Circumstances and Investigation of the Death of Ronald Greene held a hearing at the Louisiana Capitol on Monday where Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, was among those who testified.
Hardin told ABC News in a phone interview Monday that she hopes the new development will lead to charges against the officers involved in the deadly arrest of her son.
“This is such a travesty … Here we are almost into 2023,” Hardin said. “No one takes accountability for nothing.”
Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, died in May 2019 after a struggle with Louisiana State Police officers. The struggle took place following a high-speed chase in northern Louisiana, near Monroe, where Greene failed to stop for a traffic violation.
The initial police report said Greene died due to a car crash, but two years after Greene’s death, in May 2021, Louisiana State Police released hours of bodycam video evidence that included a violent struggle between Greene and police.
“It’s sickening,” Hardin said, referring to the bodycam footage. “It was right there for all to see.”
When asked about the grand jury proceedings, a spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police (LSP) told ABC News in a statement Monday that “LSP continues to offer our full cooperation in the legal proceedings.”
“Over the last two years, LSP has and continues to make fundamental improvements to our operations, training and administration leading to the implementation of critical changes throughout the department and progress toward building trust within the communities we serve,” the spokesperson said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who previously defended his actions in the wake of Greene’s death, declined an invitation to testify before the committee on 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 be attending out of town. He will not be attending today’s hearing,” a spokesman for Edwards said in a statement to ABC News on Monday.
Edwards previously denied that he delayed or interfered with the investigation into Greene’s death.
“There are implications that I knew more or that one or more of my staff members tried to cover up what happened. I will say that that is simply and categorically false,” Edwards said during a press conference in February. “It is sad. It is regrettable that I am here under these circumstances talking about these things. But unfortunately, it is unavoidable. But we can do better. We must do better.”
Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the Greene family in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisiana State Police, previously 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, but the family disputed the initial report.
The family released photos of Greene from after the incident, showing what appear to be multiple bruises and lacerations around his face and head.
An autopsy report by the Union Parish Coroner’s Office obtained by ABC News found blunt force injury to Greene’s head, neck and torso. The cause of death was listed as “cocaine-induced agitated delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint.”
The Louisiana State Police opened an investigation into the case in August 2020, which led to the firing of one officer, the suspension of another and a third who was reprimanded for his involvement in the incident.
“One trooper involved in the death, Dakota DeMoss, was given letters of reprimand and counseling for violating the department’s rules about courtesy and recordings. DeMoss was later arrested for using excessive force while handcuffing a motorist in a separate incident; he was subsequently fired in June 2021,” a spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police told ABC News. “A second trooper, 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 trooper, Kory York, was suspended for 50 hours for dragging Greene and improperly turning off his body camera, and has since returned to duty.”
Amid ongoing investigations into Greene’s death by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Hardin said she won’t stop fighting for justice.
“This is my son,” she told ABC News. “I couldn’t breathe another moment knowing that I didn’t do all I can.”
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