Louisiana State Police under investigation for excessive force or racially discriminatory policing

The DOJ said it found "significant justification" to launch the investigation.

June 09, 2022, 4:45 PM

The Department of Justice said Thursday it was opening an investigation into Louisiana State Police to determine whether its officers engaged in regular use of excessive force or racially discriminatory policing.

LSP announced earlier this year it hired an outside consultant to conduct a review of the agency, according to The Associated Press.

Last month, state prosecutors charged three police troopers who were accused of beating a Black motorist during a 2020 arrest. Body camera footage showed three white officers slapping and punching the man even though he had surrendered, face down with his arms and legs splayed, according to the AP.

PHOTO: In this May 23, 2020 image from Louisiana State Police body camera video, an  officer applies an electric weapon to the back of Black motorist Antonio Harris as other officers restrain him after a high speed chase in Franklin Parish, La.
In this May 23, 2020 image from Louisiana State Police body camera video, an unidentified law enforcement officer applies an electric weapon to the back of Black motorist Antonio Harris as other officers restrain him on the side of a road after a high speed chase in Franklin Parish, La.
Louisiana State Police via AP, File

Accusations of excessive use of force by LSP officers, especially against Black people, go as far back as 2019. Ronald Greene died in May 2019 after failing to stop for an unspecified traffic violation and subsequently leading LSP on a chase in northern Louisiana, near Monroe.

The family has disputed the police report and released photos of Greene from after the incident showing what appear to be multiple bruises and lacerations around his face and head. In body camera audio obtained by ABC News in 2020, a trooper can be heard saying, "I beat the ever-living f--- out of him," and, "Choked him and everything else trying to get him under control."

The DOJ's civil investigation will review the LSP's policies, training and supervision. The DOJ will also look into LSP's systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition and discipline.

"Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information provided to us, we find significant justification to investigate whether Louisiana State Police engages in excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing against Black residents and other people of color," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, LSP Col. Lamar Davis and Deputy General Counsel Gail Holland have all been informed of the investigation and pledged to cooperate, the Justice Department said.

“Protecting the civil rights of all Americans and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve are among the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Edwards also said he and Davis pledged their support and cooperation with the federal investigation.

"I welcome the U.S Department of Justice’s civil investigation into the patterns and practices of Louisiana State Police. It is deeply troubling that allegations of systemic misconduct exist that would warrant this type of investigation, but it is absolutely critical that all Louisianans, especially African Americans and other people of color, have their faith, confidence, and trust in public safety officers restored," Edwards said in a statement.

Edwards said he "firmly" believes that the "vast majority" of LSP troopers meet the professional standards of law enforcement officers, but "when some do not, our people, communities, and state suffer."

In a statement, Davis said the department will offer its full cooperation with the investigation and said the LSP has already implemented changes including, "banning chokeholds, banning the use of impact weapons to the head and neck, instituting a duty to intervene policy, and defining accountability for supervisors to review, track, and report excessive force incidents."

"We remain committed to the reform process through continued coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice and community stakeholders. Through this coordination, we will continue to implement critical changes within Louisiana State Police and build trust within our communities," Davis said.

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