BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The special committee investigating the death of Ronald Greene is asking Governor John Bel Edwards to testify.
Ronald Greene is the Black man who died in State Police custody in 2019 outside of Monroe. The incident sparked harsh backlash at State Police.
That request came after the committee gained access to the journal of former Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Kevin Reeves, but lawmakers’ frustration hasn’t ended. On Wednesday, they directed that frustration at Lieutenant Colonel Chris Eskew.
“You’re telling me that in the one time that somebody died, you had very little discussion leading up to meeting with the ultimate boss of State Police and the governor of Louisiana,” stated State Representative Tanner Magee.
Governor John Bel Edwards is facing continued questions about what and when he knew about Greene’s death. He’s been asked to testify in a few weeks.
Lawmakers on the special committee are also frustrated as they try to get details from former Internal Affairs Lt. Col. Chris Eskew.
“I’m going to live with the fact that somehow you guys are being less than honest with us,” said State Representative Edmond Jordan.
A doctor in Arkansas who did the autopsy in Arkansas said State Police noted Ronald Greene died from a car accident, but the doctor noticed head injuries weren’t consistent with that.
“They informed me that his head injuries were caused by, and he put it in quotes, ‘tree branches,'” said Rep. Magee, quoting the doctor’s statement.
Eskew said when he showed the Clary video to different parties like the governor and other staff he couldn’t recall what was said by anyone during the viewings.
“Generally speaking, what was the nature of the comments as the video was unfolding?” asked State Rep. Tony Bacala.
“I would liken it to a general shock and disturbance,” replied Eskew.
The video appeared in September 2020. In October of that year, the governor reportedly saw it, and then it finally made its way to District Attorney Belton in April of 2021.
“I just don’t understand why somebody in that agency didn’t make the call to turn that video over to the district attorney in a timely fashion,” State Representative Jason Hughes expressed.
Lawmakers also point out that in May of 2019 former LSP Superintendent Colonel Reeves noted in his journal to open an IA investigation, however, it didn’t happen until more than a year later.
“I mean, it’s so over a year. Why didn’t that happen?” asked Rep. Jordan.
“I don’t know, sir,” replied Eskew.
After repeated questioning, denial and then permission from Col. Davis, Eskew agreed there were criminal activities in the death of Ronald Greene.
“I was resistant to answer those questions earlier. But yes, I would agree,” said Eskew.
As for the internal investigation into the sanitization of phones, including Lt. Doug Cain’s, Col. Lamar Davis said it has been given over to the Inspector General’s office.
The governor’s office released a statement Wednesday evening confirming he will attend that committee meeting.
“We are confident that this testimony will demonstrate that neither the Governor nor anyone on his staff had any role in any attempt to cover up the facts related to Mr. Greene’s death,” Executive Counsel Matthew Block wrote to Chairman Tanner Magee.
The governor is scheduled to testify on Thursday, June 16.