WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — KTVE’s Bode Brooks sat down with Lee Merritt, the Greene family’s attorney.
Watch the video above for the raw interview or you can read the transcript below.
Bode Brooks: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about such a horrific event that has impacted this community. I want to start by asking you what these past two weeks have been like for not just for you but for the family since the world has learned what happened to Mr. Greene. Of course this was a tragedy they had to live through two years ago and are now having to relive it again as we ourselves witness what happened. What has that been like?
Lee Merritt: Just as you describe really. This is the second time really, in a public way, having to relive this. What most of them would define as the worst moment of their lives. When they learned that Ronald Greene had passed two years ago it was devastating to the family. Ronald was a central part to the family, a loving brother, a faithful son, he was looking forward to relocating with his family in Florida and they have been struggling to get answers ever since, and instead they’ve been met with resistance, with cover up, with delay and that’s been really frustrating for them. And so now that the whole world knows what actually happened and the truth is coming to light they’re having a mix of emotions. There’s the emotional highs and finally someone to share their rage with and then the truly difficult portion of having to see this very brutal assault happen in high definition on the evening news.
BB: Of everything that has been made public about Mr. Greene’s death, can you share with us what all you have seen personally and give us some insight as to what went through your mind when you saw this for the first time?
LM: When I saw this video for the first time it was actually back in September and you know we were really disturbed about what we saw then and that wasn’t even the entire file. But what we saw then was Ronald Greene was pulled over, as we anticipated, and we expected that maybe he resisted, that maybe there was some belligerence or something that would’ve motivated or contributed to the violence that we knew he endured given the body and the medical examiner notes in the kind of suffering that he endured. But listening to it now with the volume, getting the full context and getting the entire video down from all the officers that left their body camera on during this incident, you really see how Ronald was begging for his life. He’d completely surrendered from the moment the cars came to a stop. The officers were not going to be satisfied with his surrender, they wanted to humiliate him, they wanted to torture him. To watch that and to see even a supervisor come to the scene and affirm what Trooper York and Trooper Dakota Demoss were doing was really disheartening.
BB: Litigation on this case will take some time. You know that all too well yourself. When this saga ends – when it’s all said and done – what do you hope to see accomplished? Do you just want legal accountability or do you hope some reform comes out of this?
LM: Well I think reform is absolutely essential. What this video done and all this being in the view of the public, it really shows us, especially as the degree of conspiracy and cover-up comes to light, is how truly systemic police violence is. That Ronald Greene was beat to death on the side of the road on May 10th 2019, not because he was some bad guy or because officers have a tough job, but because it’s their policy that if someone runs from the police it shows them what they perceive to be that form of disrespect. They’re allowed by the supervisors, they’re allowed by the system to use this form of gratuitous violence to punish them, and it’s that kind of violence, systemic violence that is sanctioned by the state that we really need to have specific policies to deal with. Specific policies around transparency, specific policies around criminal accountability and review. I think that’s what comes from all this.
BB: The family met with Governor John Bel Edwards back in October, where they viewed some of that video. I’m not sure how much you can really speak on that meeting but I’m curious what you may know about that meeting and if you know of any other leaders have reached out to the family including President Biden or Vice President Harris?
LM: When we met with Governor John Bel Edwards he committed to the family he was going to try to move towards in the area of transparency. It wasn’t a strong commitment in the first place given what we were seeing on that video but since then the family has been extremely disappointed with the governor’s lack of action. The words that he’s saying today in the media about how horrible this is, about how horrible it is to watch the other officers present fail to intervene. About the level of coverup and how he’d like to denounce that today. The family could’ve used hearing that back in September and seeing that indignation match with specific actions to hold these officers accountable. We’re hoping today now that he sees this with the rest of the world that his indignation is not just empty words.
BB: Tomorrow you’ll be joining Mr. Greene’s family in Baton Rouge rallying for justice for Mr. Greene. When you think about tomorrow, what do you want to see happen?
LM: We want to see Officer Dakota Demoss, Kory York, and Lieutenant James Clary arrested. We believe that policy makers can contribute to an atmosphere that would allow such things that’s why we’re going to the steps of the Capitol on the NAACP legislative day because there’s certain ways the laws need to change to ensure transparency and accountability. We believe that the governor- the chief executive officer for Louisiana – the attorney general, and the Union Parish district attorney have an obligation to respond to the probable cause evidence that crimes were committed by the Louisiana State Police Department available to the public and to make probable cause arrests. If any other criminals were exposed the way these men had been exposed, on national media, these men would have been in handcuffs because there is more than enough probable cause to issue arrest warrants for these men. So that’s what we expect to see. The community is not going there for publicity, or for sympathy, or for kind words. They’re coming specifically for action from our elected officials.
BB: Mr. Lee Merritt thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. We know you have a busy travel day ahead of you, so thank you, sir.
LM: Thank you.