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New Autopsy Report Disputes State Police Claims That Black Motorist Ronald Greene Died As The Result Of A Car Crash

A new autopsy review ordered by the FBI allegedly shows that Ronald Greene died from a combination of factors, including troopers' hits to his head, officers' efforts to restrain the 49-year-old, and cocaine that was found in his system.

By Jill Sederstrom
Ronald Greene Ap

A new look at the autopsy of Ronald Greene—a man who died in 2019 after a high-speed chase with police—refutes the Louisiana State Police’s claim that Greene died as a result of a car crash and has prompted increased scrutiny into the actions of the officers at the scene, who were captured on body camera footage stunning, beating and dragging Greene.

The FBI ordered a re-examination of the autopsy amid questions about Greene’s death, according to The Associated Press.

The new forensic analysis—which was reviewed by the Associated Press and discussed by an anonymous source not authorized to publicly talk about the case—attributes the 49-year-old’s death to multiple factors including officers’ efforts to restrain him, being struck in the head by troopers at the scene, and cocaine that was found in his system.

Perhaps most importantly, the new report removes the crash as a cause of death and also eliminates “agitated delirium,” both of which had been listed on the initial autopsy report.

While it was initially believed that Greene fractured a breastbone and ruptured an aorta in a crash that was so minor the airbags in the vehicle never deployed, the new analysis has determined it was more likely that Greene received the injuries from CPR and other life-saving efforts performed by paramedics, the source told the news outlet.

It's unclear what impact the new autopsy report will have on the case.

Federal prosecutors are working to wrap up a two-year civil rights investigation into Greene’s death and that of other Black motorists after disturbing questions emerged from the body camera footage, which showed officers repeatedly jolting Greene with a stun gun before he ever got out of his vehicle, according to an earlier report from The Associated Press.

Greene led officers on a high-speed chase on May 10, 2019 after refusing to stop for a traffic violation, but appeared immediately to be apologetic, telling officers he was sorry.

“I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” he said.

During the 46-minute video, one officer can be seen putting Greene into a choke hold and punching him in the face, while another calls him a “stupid motherf---er.”

After Greene is shackled at the ankles and his hands are cuffed behind his back, an officer dragged him face down before leaving him for more than nine minutes with his face in the dirt, the news outlet reports. Greene eventually went limp.

"I beat the ever-living f--- out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control," Trooper Chris Hollingsworth can be heard saying in video footage, according to CBS News. "All of a sudden he just went limp. ... I thought he was dead."   

"You all got that on bodycam?" another office replies over the phone, before Hollingsworth allegedly turned off his camera.

Hollingsworth, who allegedly also struck Greene in the head with his flashlight, died last year in a single vehicle car crash, according to The Associated Press.

State troopers initially told Greene’s family that he had died after his vehicle crashed into a tree.

“Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and a struggle with troopers,” a report said, according to The New York Times.  It added the he had “become unresponsive” and died on the route to the hospital.

It took more than two years to release the body camera video, prompting accusations that the state police had been trying to cover up the death.

The Union Parish coroner listed Greene’s death as accidental, but it's unclear whether that may change in light of the new report.

An attorney for the troopers argued in court in July as part of a civil suit brought against them by the family that Greene had died as a result of the car crash.

“At trial, defendants will present scientific evidence that Mr. Greene’s death was caused by a crash-related blunt force chest trauma resulting in a fractured sternum and ruptured aorta,” P. Scott Wolleson wrote in a court filing.

Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, is hoping the new findings help bring her son some justice.

“This thing has been so crazy,” she said. “No one has properly grieved.”

A spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police told the Associated Press they had been given “no further information on the ongoing federal investigation” but were cooperating with officials.

Earlier this year, State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis told CBS News he had spoken with Greene’s family and was sorry for their loss.

“I can feel their pain and feel it in my heart,” he said.

While Davis said the officers involved were “afforded due process” he added that the department “will follow the facts and hold our personnel accountable.”

In a statement to Oxygen.com Friday, Louisiana State Police Capt. Nick Manale said, "LSP continues to offer our full cooperation and has been provided no further information on the ongoing federal investigation. As the department awaits the findings of the federal investigation, the men and women of the Department of Public Safety remain dedicated to professional public service across our state."

Tina Jagerson, a spokesperson for the FBI National Press Office, declined to comment.