Tanner Magee Says It’s Just Too Hard To Get To The Bottom Of The Ronald Greene Case

If you missed the AP piece by Jim Mustian over the weekend about why nothing ever happened with respect to the legislative investigation into the killing of black motorist Ronald Greene, who was beaten to death by State Police troopers on a North Louisiana roadside in May 2019, and the subsequent cover-up of that killing, you proved saved yourself an unhealthy dose of outrage.

It’s a perfect descriptor of the terrible problem with leadership in this state, and why half-assed efforts and failure theater doom us to being last in everything.

Before we get into the piece let’s understand what really happened to Greene. He wasn’t a felon or a career criminal; he was a barber and a regular citizen. But Greene had too much to drink, or something, that night in May 2019, and he ran a stoplight in front of a cop. Thanks to the hysteria whipped up in the black community about what happens to black people when they encounter the police – hysteria which isn’t proven out by statistics but would actually seem to be justified by what happened to Greene that night – Greene didn’t pull over. Instead, he hit the gas and he led the cops on a high-speed, late-night chase on country roads. The State Police got involved, and eventually Greene ran off the road and hit a tree.

Forty-five minutes later he was dead, having been thoroughly brutalized by a bunch of pissed-off cops.

Then the cover-up began, because everybody involved knew that if the word had gotten 0ut about the Ronald Greene killing Louisiana’s Democrat governor John Bel Edwards would have been toast with the black vote, without which he could never beat either Ralph Abraham or Eddie Rispone. So the word went out that it was crashing into the tree which killed Greene and not the beating he took afterward, even though the video from the event showed that was a lie.

The cover-up worked, nobody paid the Greene case any attention and Edwards ultimately beat Rispone in the fall of 2019 with the help of a sizable turnout of black voters Edwards whipped up by accusing Rispone of planning to take away food stamps and Medicaid.

But a couple of years later the word started to leak out, and the Greene case became a scandal of sorts when WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge began probing the cover-up. At that point Clay Schexnayder, the rather Edwards-friendly House Speaker, became irritated on the knowledge that the governor had lied to him about Greene’s death and convened a special legislative panel to investigate the matter.

That investigation was led by Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee. And its performance was…lackluster at best. It held a couple of hearings and was largely stonewalled by current and former State Police leadership, and before it could summon Edwards to testify the Legislature got caught up in a lawsuit over redistricting and the matter was dropped.

And never picked back up.

Mustian’s piece starts off with a bang…

Louisiana legislators who last year demanded answers from Gov. John Bel Edwards on whether he was complicit in a cover-up of state troopers’ deadly arrest of a Black motorist have quietly abandoned their work without hearing from the governor or issuing any findings.

Lawmakers involved in the special committee probing the 2019 death of Ronald Greene offered an array of explanations, including election-year politics, concern the probe of state police wasn’t playing well with Louisiana’s mostly conservative voters and even a lack of resources in the legislature.

“We only make $17,000 a year, and as much as I want to get to the heart of the Ronald Greene matter for justice, I also want my kids to have dinner tonight,” said state Rep. Tanner Magee, a Republican who chaired the bipartisan panel and ran unsuccessfully last year for a state judgeship.

“We’re not the feds with unlimited resources,” Magee said. “Behind the facade, it’s a Mickey Mouse organization trying to do its best.”

Wait, what?

The Legislature has had gigantic budget surpluses for the last couple of years due to overtaxation. It couldn’t appropriate money to staff up the investigation with lawyers and investigators? There is no shortage of PI’s and attorneys in this state, after all.

And how come the Speaker Pro Tem, who at least at one point fancied himself the next Speaker, didn’t go to his pal Clay Schexnayder and secure the resources for a proper investigation? That’s what you’d expect of the guy heading the committee, isn’t it?

The piece talks about the heartbreak Mona Hardin, Greene’s mother who really does seem like a nice lady who deserves a whole lot better treatment than she’s received from the politicians and public officials handling this debacle, has gone through and the breaches of trust this has become.

A state grand jury late last year brought the first charges in the case, indicting five law enforcement officers on counts ranging from negligent homicide to obstruction. But the Justice Department still has not indicated whether it will bring federal charges following a yearslong civil rights investigation. Hardin says the abandoned legislative inquiry cuts deeper because of the hope and spotlight it promised.

“No matter where you turn there’s nobody who can be trusted,” she said. “I’m bothered more than anything that everyone can just continue on their merry way.”

And then there is this…

Fellow Democrats on the Legislative Black Caucus berated Edwards behind closed doors over his handling of the case, and GOP leader Schexnayder invoked the language of impeachment from the outset of the probe, saying the governor’s actions “would demonstrate gross misconduct.”

But Edwards has repeatedly said he did nothing to influence or hinder the Greene investigation and eventually described the troopers’ actions on the video as both criminal and racist. He also said there was no way he could have known that the footage he privately watched in 2020 had not already been turned over to prosecutors.

After initially dismissing the legislative inquiry as a “witch hunt,” Edwards agreed to cooperate and testify. Lawmakers postponed his first scheduled testimony last June due to a special legislative session. When the committee invited the governor to testify again at its last meeting in November, it gave him only a few days notice and Edwards instead attended an out-of-town ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Since then, Edwards hasn’t received another invitation, his spokesman told AP, and the committee “never made any requests for documents from us.”

Schexnayder acknowledged there were no plans for the committee to meet again and he seemed resigned to move on. “Our role was to be a voice for the people who were demanding a fair and unbiased investigation of the matter,” he said. “I believe that mission was accomplished.”


What little work the investigative committee did do proved that higher-ups in the State Police throttled the case from the very beginning, hiding the body-camera footage from public view or scrutiny, we know that Edwards was informed immediately after the killing of the basics of what had happened, and we know that the cell phones of those involved up the chain from the beating were “sanitized.”


And nothing was done to get to the bottom of any of this and Schexnayder says the “mission was accomplished?”

How half-assed and feeble can you get?

Let’s do a quick thought experiment: Let’s say there was a Republican governor of a state, and the governor’s praetorian guard, which is what the Louisiana State Police is for Louisiana’s governor; let’s not mince words here, beat a black guy to death on a roadside out in the sticks six months before the election. And let’s say the cover-up was good enough to take the story off the table until after the election, so the most sensational issue it might have been decided on wasn’t even known about by most of the public.

But then that cover-up began melting away, and the Democrats who run the legislature of said state had the opportunity to commence an investigation into the case.

Do you think it results in a half-assed, “oh, well; mission accomplished” shrug-your-shoulders-and-move-on-to-the-next-thing?

Of course not. It doesn’t stop until that governor is dead meat politically and forced to resign or else impeached and removed, purely along partisan lines if possible.

And yet the crowd in charge of Louisiana’s legislature just moseys along, pretending that what’s important is how much asphalt they can beg from the governor to be poured in their districts.

It’s shocking but not surprising. What it tells us is that there needs to be a complete sea change in how Louisiana’s legislature operates. That body needs such a thorough housecleaning it’s hard to know even where to start.

And as for the current administration, well…the inauguration of the next governor simply cannot come soon enough.



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