Ret. State Police Supt. Col. Kevin Reeves maintains he did nothing wrong in investigation of Greene’s death at the hands of state troopers.
By Piper Hutchinson
Manship News Service
BATON ROUGE–The mother of Ronald Greene gave tearful testimony Tuesday to a House committee investigating the circumstances of his death, calling her son’s killing and the handling of the State Police investigation a “black eye for the state of Louisiana.”
Mona Hardin broke down sobbing at the witness table as she called out the State Police for the death of her son, who died after being tased and beaten while in custody.
“There was a reason why my son was killed: Because state troopers are judge, jury, and executioner,” Hardin said.
Hardin echoed lawmakers in criticizing Col. Kevin Reeves, the retired superintendent who oversaw the State Police at the time of Greene’s death, for giving insufficient answers to the committee.
“It’s awful that someone that’s been in such a high position could have so many ‘I don’t know responses’ to answers it should have been directly answered with yes or no,” Hardin said.” But to just ‘I don’t know’ and to pass the buck on to someone else to give a more affirmative answer, it’s so disrespectful.”
Reeves maintained that he did nothing wrong. He was grilled by a bipartisan group of lawmakers for three hours over what he knew and when.
“My religion tells me that I’ll stand before God and I’ll give an account for my life,” Reeves said. “Lord knows I have a lot to account for. But I can tell you right now. I will not have to account for participating in a coverup of the death of Mr. Ronald Greene.”
While Reeves denied a coverup, lawmakers expressed frustration with Reeves’ answers, telling him they felt “misled.”
At various points in the hearing, Reeves disputed that Greene’s death constituted murder. He highlighted a toxicology report that noted cocaine use, said that the crash was at least a “contributing factor” and refused to characterize troopers’ actions, frequently attempting to separate himself from the investigation.
“You keep saying that you were not involved in this investigation,” Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, said. “It is very hard for me to sit here and believe that someone died and you don’t have any more information or you’re not as involved. Or to me it appears that you should have been involved if you weren’t.”
Several Black lawmakers said the investigation would have gone differently if Greene were white, charging that the troopers involved had racist intent.
“You don’t have the right to make that decision about me. I care about every life,” Reeves said.
Reeves’ lawyer, Lewis Unglesby, continuously interjected during the testimony, earning him a tongue-lashing from the committee chairman, Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, who banished Unglesby from the witness table.
Hardin said that Unglesby’s actions were proof that Reeves holds himself above the law and thanked Magee for putting the lawyer “in his place.”
Ultimately, Reeves defended the troopers involved in Greene’s death. Reeves argued that Kory York, who turned off his body camera, did not do so to “cover something up.”
“There was no effort to my knowledge to cover up or mislead anyone,” Reeves said. “I did not oversee or take any role in the investigation.”
Eugene Collins, the president of the Baton Rouge NAACP, accompanied Hardin to the witness stand. Collins charged that people would be “foolish” to say Reeves would not have to account for this when he got to heaven.
“To say that all those entities just coincidentally acted and none of those folks got nothing to answer for when they get up to those gates and see St. Peter?” Collins said. “You’d be foolish. Absolutely foolish.”
Hardin ended her testimony by asking the committee to hold the State Police accountable.
“Stop this organized crime because the fact that it’s a network of so many people, it’s truly unbelievable,” Hardin said.