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Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy

Gov. Edwards says he has 'no regrets' over his actions in Ronald Greene case

Gov. John Bel Edwards dons his mask after introducing Col. Lamar Davis as the new superintendent of Louisiana State Police. Nov. 13, 2020.
Paul Braun
Gov. John Bel Edwards dons his mask after introducing Col. Lamar Davis as the new superintendent of Louisiana State Police. Nov. 13, 2020.

Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters Monday that he has no regrets about his actions following the violent death of Ronald Greene in Louisiana State Police custody for which five law enforcement officers are now facing criminal charges.

“As I have said from the very beginning… I believed there was criminal conduct in the manner in which the state police took Mr. Greene into custody subsequent to the motor vehicle accident,” Edwards said. “I think, by and large, that the indictments reflect that, so I don’t know of anything else that I would add at this point.”

Five law enforcement officers — four Louisiana State troopers and one Union Parish Sheriff's deputy — were indicted by a state grand jury Thursday on criminal charges ranging from malfeasance in office to negligent homicide for their role in the fatal arrest of the unarmed Black motorist in 2019.

Edwards did not speak about the indictments until the question-and-answer period of his end-of-the-year press conference Monday.

When asked, the second-term Democrat said he would speak with state lawmakers investigating Greene's death and the internal affairs investigation that followed.

“I’m perfectly happy to sit down and speak with them,” Edwards said. “I can’t imagine they have any question that I haven’t already answered, because I’ve addressed every question that has been put to me.”

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder created the bipartisan committee after reporting by the Associated Press revealed that Edwards exchanged text messages the morning after the incident with retired Col. Kevin Reeves, who led Louisiana State Police at the time, about a then-unnamed suspect who died after a “violent, lengthy struggle” with troopers.

Reeves’ characterization of the encounter in the private text message directly contradicted what the agency told Greene’s family — that he died from injuries in a car crash, making no mention of troopers beating, tasing, hitting and dragging the handcuffed and shackled 49-year-old.

The governor was first called to testify before the special state House committee in June, but that meeting was postponed after lawmakers were called into a court-mandated special session on redistricting.

When the committee resumed its work last month, Edwards declined lawmakers’ invitation to testify citing a scheduling conflict. He attended a ribbon cutting for an infrastructure project the day the committee met.

Edwards relationship with the Greene family has grown increasingly chilly since the governor first met with the family to view the long-suppressed bodycam footage of Greene’s deadly arrest in October of 2020 — more than a year after the incident.

Mona Hardin, Greene’s mother, said Thursday that Edwards declined an invitation to attend the press conference the family and its attorneys held shortly after the indictments were issued.

“I have nothing to say to him because all his actions speak for themselves,” Hardin said.

Earlier this year, Hardin called on Edwards to resign and has consistently criticized Edwards tendency to place blame for the incident and botched internal affairs investigation on the few officers at the scene, while deflecting any claims that higher-ups in the agency participated in a coverup.

Paul Braun was WRKF's Capitol Access reporter, from 2019 through 2023.