AP: Trooper kicked, dragged Black man who died in custody
A Louisiana State Police trooper has been suspended without pay for kicking and dragging a handcuffed Black man whose in-custody death remains unexplained and the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.
Body camera footage shows Master Trooper Kory York dragging Ronald Greene “on his stomach by the leg shackles” following a violent arrest and high-speed pursuit, according to internal State Police records obtained by The Associated Press.
The records are the first public acknowledgement by State Police that Greene was mistreated, and they confirm details provided last year by an attorney for Greene’s family who viewed graphic body camera footage of the May 2019 arrest and likened it the police killing of George Floyd. The video shows troopers choking and beating the man, repeatedly jolting him with stun guns and dragging him face-down across the pavement, the attorney told AP.
State Police have repeatedly refused to publicly release the body camera footage. The agency has been tight lipped about Greene’s death and initially blamed the man’s fatal injuries on a car crash outside Monroe, La.
York, who turned his own body camera off on his way to the scene, is seen on other body-cam footage yanking Greene’s shackles and repeatedly using profanity toward Greene before he died in custody.
“You’re gonna lay on your f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) belly like I told you!” the trooper says at one point, according to the police records.
York was suspended without pay for 50 hours following an internal investigation that also led to the termination of another trooper, Chris Hollingsworth, who died in a single-car crash after learning he had been fired over his role in the incident. The AP last year published a 27-second audio clip from Hollingsworth’s body camera in which he can be heard telling a colleague, “I beat the ever-living f--- out of” Greene before he “all of a sudden he just went limp.”
“It is now undisputed that Trooper York participated in the brutal assault that took Ronald Greene’s life,” said Mark Maguire, a Philadelphia civil rights attorney who represents Greene’s family. “This suspension is a start but it does not come close to the full transparency and accountability the family continues to seek.”
Col. Lamar Davis, who took over as State Police superintendent last year, wrote York that his suspension had been decided by his predecessor, Kevin Reeves, adding he “would have imposed more severe discipline” had it been up to him. Reeves made the decision during his last week in office, before stepping down amid a series of scandals, but York was not notified of the reasons for his suspension until Dec. 29.
York’s attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
York told investigators he turned his own body-worn camera off because it was beeping loudly and that his “mind was on other things” after arriving at the scene.
“I didn’t think about it,” he said.
The trooper who initially chased Greene, Dakota DeMoss, was recently arrested in connection with a separate police pursuit last year in which he and two other troopers allegedly used excessive force while handcuffing a motorist. Those charges followed a monthslong internal investigation into use-of-force incidents involving troopers in the northern part of the state.
It’s not clear whether DeMoss has been disciplined in Greene’s arrest.