BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s Black state lawmakers said Tuesday they are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the patterns and practices of the state police as the law enforcement agency’s treatment of African Americans comes under scrutiny.
The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus said its letter calls on the DOJ to determine if troopers have systematically violated the constitutional rights of Black people. The American Civil Liberties Union also has asked the department’s civil rights division to review the entire agency’s tactics.
“We’re asking for a full-scale, top-to-bottom patterns and practices investigation,” Rep. Ted James, the Baton Rouge Democrat who chairs the caucus, said Tuesday as he was surrounded by members of the group at the Louisiana Capitol.
Federal officials already are conducting a civil rights investigation into the fatal arrest of Ronald Greene, a Black man who was punched and dragged by troopers before his death in May 2019.
Troopers initially told Greene’s relatives he died in a crash following a chase on a rural road near Monroe. Later, State Police issued a short statement saying Greene had struggled with troopers during his arrest and died on the way to a hospital.
What really happened during the man’s last moments alive was revealed only after The Associated Press obtained body-camera video that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration subsequently released two years later. No troopers have been charged.
The State Police set up a secret panel in response to Greene’s death and three other violent stops of Black men to investigate whether troopers in the northeastern part of the state have systematically targeted Black motorists for abuse. But the Legislative Black Caucus wants a broader review than this internal investigation of the northeast-based Troop F.
James said the Black lawmakers outside federal investigators to review the entire agency.