Louisiana’s top Republican lawmaker weighed in on legislative action Monday against Governor John Bel Edwards for “gross misconduct and the highest level of deception” in his response to Ronald Green’s deadly 2019 arrest.
The comments by House Speaker Clay Schneider came on the heels of an Associated Press report that showed the Democratic governor had been told within hours that the soldiers who arrested Greene had engaged in a “long, violent struggle,” but he remained silent for two years as state police told an entirely different story to the victim’s family. And in official reports: that Green died of a crash after a high-speed chase.
“This would demonstrate gross misconduct and the highest level of deception on behalf of the governor and others,” Schicksneider said in a statement. “What happened to Ronald Green is unforgivable and should not happen to anyone. His family and the citizens of the country deserve to know the truth.”
Shaxneider, who said he met at the weekend with the president of the Republican Senate and the state attorney general, did not explain the options he was considering but noted “we are fully prepared to use the power granted to us in this state’s constitution.”
Edwards’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schicksneider’s statement. His spokesperson previously declined to mention the steps, if any, the governor took immediately upon receiving this text about the circumstances of Green’s arrest, saying, “The governor does not direct disciplinary or criminal investigations.”
Edwards, who was in the midst of a tight reelection campaign at the time of Greene’s death, remained publicly silent about the contradictory accounts and possible cover-ups until last May when the Associated Press obtained and published long-banned camera footage showing what really happened: White soldiers beating Green with his stun guns, punching him in the face and pulling him by the shackles of his ankle as he pleads for mercy and laments, “I’m your brother! I’m afraid! I’m afraid!”
The video prompted Edwards to finally speak out to condemn the soldiers, later describing their actions as “criminal.” But the governor, who is descended from a long line of law enforcement officers, also reiterated the crash theory and downplayed the soldiers’ actions. In one case presented by the Associated Press, he allegedly argued privately last June against Schexnayder’s proposal for a legislative inquiry into Green’s arrest, telling him there was no need because he “died in a wreck.”
Republican lawmakers are considering action amid an ongoing federal civil rights investigation into the bloody standoff and whether police officers obstructed justice to protect the soldiers who arrested Green.
Mona Hardin, Green’s mother, called on Edwards to resign, saying he chose the political pretext over justice in a man’s death.
“He needs to go,” Hardin told the Associated Press. “He was able to stand aside while all of this was happening and remain silent. That’s a shame. … I hate that I was lied to.”
Louisiana NAACP officials released a statement calling the Associated Press revelations “extremely concerning.”
“The NAACP finds this very illustrative of the need for our governor to be fully transparent with our great nation. We feel that our governor appears to have missed the mark thus far,” the statement said. “When did you learn the truth, Governor?”
Mustian reported from New York. Bleiberg, from Dallas.