BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards’ staff was in constant communication with people connected to the investigation into Ronald Greene’s death in May 2019.
Text messages obtained through a public records request by the WBRZ Investigative Unit showed that attorneys for the governor, state and federal prosecutors often texted as the case was under review at the amid media reports of a state police cover-up.
Read all text messages obtained by WBRZ – scroll down to the links at the bottom of the page.
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WBRZ and News 2 chief investigator Chris Nakamoto revealed elements of the cover-up for months.
Greene died after a high-speed chase in the Monroe area. His family learned that he had died in an accident, which was eventually disproven, and soldiers attempted to hide body camera footage of the incident. An investigating detective even noted that the highest-ranking soldier at the scene the night Greene died lied about the body camera video.
Text messages obtained by WBRZ show that former U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook often communicated with the governor’s executive counsel, Matthew Block.
“I’m calling about Ronald Greene,” Van Hook wrote to Block in a message.
In another message, Van Hook wrote to the governor’s attorney, “Senator Katrina Jackson keeps calling and I want clarification on what you told her before calling her back.”
Block was also in constant communication with John Belton, the Union Parish district attorney.
“Take a moment to talk,” Block texted Belton.
At one point, as things unfolded, the governor’s office even offered to send a helicopter to pick up Belton to meet the Greene family in Baton Rouge. Sources confirmed to the WBRZ Investigative Unit, Belton used the helicopter donated by the governor’s office.
Another text seems to show that Belton kept the governor’s office informed of the meetings.
“The Greene family and their attorneys would like to meet with me on Thursday,” Belton wrote to Block. “If this gives you trouble, then I’ll reconsider. Out of respect, I wanted to make sure you were aware.”
Mona Hardin, Ronald Greene’s mother, said she was tired of feeling like the state of Louisiana was using her family as political pawns.
“They had no problem lying,” Hardin said. “No problem looking me in the face and shaking my hand.”
Amid Ronald Greene’s death, more brutality emerged from F Troop, the branch of the state police where Greene died.
In other messages to the governor, a senior state police lieutenant sent a message to the governor’s attorney to keep the executive office informed, Doug Cain sent Block a lengthy note about other incidents involving soldiers in the Monroe area.
Block response: “Thanks, I showed JBE.”
When asked for comment, the governor’s office provided a lengthy statement:
As we have said many times, and as the Governor said last Tuesday, our only conversations with District Attorney Belton and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have been to coordinate to make sure the family and members Black Caucus could see the videos, which we were told not to. to share publicly and have the U.S. Attorney’s Office meet with the family and lawmakers. These texts are not at all inconsistent with what our office and the Governor have said, period. No one in our office interfered with a criminal investigation.
Regarding the text on Senator Jackson and Mr. Van Hook, Matthew Block was coordinating with the US Attorney’s office so that family members could get an update on the US Attorney’s case. That’s why he was in contact with Mr. Van Hook.
Since you’re focusing on DA Belton, I hope you’ll also relate what DA Belton said to Ruston’s chief last week – “I haven’t received any calls from him or anyone in his office trying to convince me to do not proceed.” Mr. Van Hook also publicly made similar comments.
Read all text messages: