Families of men killed in police custody stand together to get justice

Mona Hardin and RowVaughn Wells

BATON ROUGE — The families of Ronald Greene and Tyre Nichols, along with civil rights attorney Ben Crump, held a news conference Wednesday to request federal civil rights charges be filed against those accused of killing Greene

Greene, 49, died on May 10, 2019, after an incident that state troopers described as “resisting arrest” following a high-speed chase that spanned two parishes.

Videos of Greene’s arrest were released in 2021 that showed Greene being tased, kicked, and punched by state police before he died in custody. Greene’s death was initially blamed on the car crash before the videos showing the brutality became public.

Nichols died in January 2023 after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tenn. Five black former Memphis police officers are accused of violently beating him to death. The former officers were charged with federal civil rights violations, as well as second-degree murder and other charges.

“We’re coming here today to remind America that Ronald Greene’s life mattered,” Crump said. “We can’t forget Ronald Greene.”

Ben Crump

Crump outlined the similarities in the incidents, but the aftermath was drastically different.

“They are so eerily similar in almost every fashion,” Crump explained. “When you look at the videos, you see Tyre making a plea for his life, saying, ‘I was just trying to get home. What did I do?’ You look at Ronald Greene’s tragic killing, and he says, ‘I’m sorry. I’m your brother. I was just scared.’ Both of their pleas fall on deaf ears.

“Also equally similar is the fact you have officers giving a proclamation of the brutality,” he added. “In Tyre Nichols, you hear him say, ‘I was hitting him with straight haymakers. I don’t know what the hell was keeping him up.’ Then you hear Ronald Greene, the state trooper, say, ‘I beat the ever livin’… out of him.’ The videos are eerily similar. The only difference is the aftermath of what transpired.”

Crump said the aftermath of Nichols’ killing should be the blueprint for America going forward. He said the five black officers who killed Nichols were terminated, charged, and arrested for murder in 20 days.

“When you have evidence of a crime on video, even Ray Charles can see what happened,” Crump said. “It should not take an exhaustive investigation to get simple justice. We know it was drastically different with Ronald Green, and we’re here to ask America why is that?”

Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, was in attendance Wednesday side-by-side with Greene’s mother Mona Hardin.

“It’s been a long journey, but we’re still fighting,” Wells said. “I’m here with Mona today because right now, we’re in this little fraternity where our sons were brutally beaten by police officers who were supposed to protect and serve. We want to know why the same thing happened to Ronald Greene and those police officers have not been charged.”

“We don’t understand how one case can be so clear, and then the other case is basically the same, but nothing is happening,” she added. “We need to get those five officers that beat Ronald Greene to death arrested and brought to justice.”

Hardin said Nichols’ family being there Wednesday meant a lot.

“We were so elated that this (Nichols) family got their due justice really quickly, whereas for my son, three and a half years, we have these really weak indictments,” she said. “This year, we’re down to literally nothing.”

Ronald Greene’s Case

In April, the five white law enforcement officers pleaded not guilty to state crimes in Greene’s death.

The arraignment came nearly five months after a grand jury handed up a list of charges ranging from negligent homicide to obstruction and malfeasance, the first indictments related to Greene’s death.

Facing the most serious charges, including negligent homicide, is Master Trooper Kory York, who was seen on the body-camera footage dragging Greene by his ankle shackles, putting his foot on his back to force him down, and leaving the man facedown in the dirt for more than nine minutes.

In July, a Union Parish judge dismissed all criminal charges against two of the five officers, according to reports. Judge Thomas Rogers quashed the obstruction of justice indictments against former Louisiana State Police troopers Dakota DeMoss and John Peters. Those were the only charges against them.

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