SHREVEPORT, La. – In a surprising turn of events, prosecutors have decided to drop charges against a Louisiana state trooper, Lt. John Clary, who was accused of withholding graphic body-camera footage related to the 2019 arrest and death of Black motorist Ronald Greene. This footage showed another officer dragging Greene by his ankle shackles during the arrest.
Lt. Clary, who was the ranking officer at the scene, has agreed to testify in the trial of Master Trooper Kory York, a former colleague charged with negligent homicide in Greene’s case. York faces allegations of forcing Greene into a facedown and handcuffed position for over nine minutes, which, according to use-of-force experts, likely restricted his breathing.
John Belton, the Union Parish district attorney, confirmed Clary’s cooperation, stating, “Mr. Clary has and will continue to cooperate with the state and testify truthfully in this matter.”
The dismissal of the obstruction of justice indictment against Clary, however, came as a surprise, with no immediate clarity on the reasons behind this decision.
Kory York is expected to stand trial next year but is pursuing an appellate court’s dismissal of his indictment due to a prosecutor’s acknowledgment of a mistake. Prosecutors allowed a use-of-force expert to review protected statements made by York during an internal affairs inquiry, which are typically shielded from use in criminal cases.
The case initially involved state police attributing Greene’s death on May 10, 2019, to a car crash at the end of a high-speed chase. After a delay of over two years in releasing body-camera footage, The Associated Press obtained and published the footage, revealing the events leading up to Greene’s death. The video showed white troopers converging on Greene, who was still inside his car, while he cried out, “I’m your brother! I’m scared!”
Clary’s video is the only footage showing the moment when a handcuffed and injured Greene moans under the weight of two troopers, twitches, and eventually becomes still.
With the dismissal of Clary’s indictment, charges remain against only two of the five officers indicted last year in Greene’s death. This situation has triggered renewed calls for the U.S. Justice Department to bring its indictment against the troopers.
Federal prosecutors have been contemplating civil rights charges for years as part of a grand jury investigation examining whether Louisiana State Police leadership obstructed justice by protecting the troopers involved in Greene’s arrest.
Both Clary and his defense attorney have yet to respond to inquiries. The dismissal potentially paves the way for his return to the Louisiana State Police, where he was placed on administrative leave in December following his indictment.
Capt. Nick Manale, a state police spokesman, revealed that the agency would review the dismissal before deciding on Clary’s reinstatement. Notably, Clary faced no internal disciplinary action even though his statements to investigators contradicted his body camera footage, wherein he falsely claimed Greene was resisting arrest to justify further uses of force.