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Opinion | What Ronald Greene’s Death Reveals About Police Killings

It was in the city of Monroe that Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, encountered the troopers. Greene was a barber, as is one of my brothers.

According to a crash report reviewed by The Associated Press, troopers attempted to pull him over for an unspecified traffic violation, but he “refused to stop” and “a pursuit ensued.”

This is how The A.P. reported the conclusion of the single-page police report released by the State Police, which said the chase ended when Greene crashed his vehicle:

“‘Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and a struggle with troopers,’ the report says, adding that he ‘became unresponsive’ and died on the way to a hospital. The report doesn’t describe any use of force by troopers.” (The Louisiana State Police later claimed that the troopers did use force and that it was justified.)

The video, however, shows the troopers — all white, by the way — jolting Greene with a stun gun, forcing him to the ground, putting him in a choke hold and punching him in the face. On the video, you can also hear Greene saying, “I’m sorry” and “I’m scared.”

As The A.P. reported about the video:

Instead of rendering aid, the troopers leave the heavyset man unattended, facedown and moaning for more than nine minutes, as they use sanitizer wipes to wash blood off their hands and faces. “I hope this guy ain’t got [expletive] AIDS,” one of the troopers can be heard saying. After a several-minute stretch in which Greene is not seen on camera, he appears again, limp, unresponsive and bleeding from his head and face. He is then loaded onto an ambulance gurney, his arm cuffed to the bedrail.

Everything about this case is wrong. It is true that fleeing the police isn’t smart or legal, but it is also true that doing so shouldn’t be a death sentence.

Furthermore, the police report, which would have been the only official accounting of Greene’s death if this video hadn’t come to light, is a damning false accounting of events, one that is in line with other false accountings that have been refuted by video in high-profile police killings.

Black people distrust the police because things like this teach Black people to distrust the police. This is not paranoia; it is practicality.

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