Judge quashes some charges in Greene case

A Third Judicial District judge has quashed charges against two state troopers indicted in connection with the May 2019 arrest and death of Ronald Greene.

Former state troopers John Peters and Dakota DeMoss no longer face charges in the case. Judge Tommy Rogers ruled in court documents filed Monday that two statements allegedly made by Peters during the investigation did not meet the standard to charge him with obstruction of justice. Peters was commander of Troop F of the Louisiana State Police at the time of the Greene incident.

Greene, 49, died after a confrontation in which police said Greene was resisting arrest and struggling with state troopers following a lengthy chase from Monroe into Union Parish. His family said they were initially told Greene died on impact in the crash but an investigation by several agencies led to grand jury indictments of some of the officers allegedly involved in his death or a subsequent coverup.

“(Peters) is alleged to have said ‘Bury it in the report,’ and ‘Don’t send the videos unless the (D.A.) asks for it,’” the judge’s written ruling said. “‘Bury it in the report’ presumably is an admonition not to destroy, alter or remove inculpating evidence from a report, but to place it in the middle or toward the end of the report where a reader might overlook it.”

“Likewise, the second statement about not sending videos unless asked for is not an admonition to destroy, alter or remove the videos,” Rogers wrote.

The judge said Peters’ alleged statements do not exemplify what is expected from a law enforcement officer but do not constitute obstruction of justice.

The judge also ruled the obstruction count against DeMoss should be quashed because his actions in turning off his body camera audio did not constitute obstruction.

Peters and DeMoss face no other charges after the obstruction charges were dismissed.

The judge also ruled some counts against the other three defendants could be quashed unless prosecutors can cure deficiencies raised by the court within three days.

Kory York, a Louisiana state trooper when he was indicted on a negligent homicide charge and ten counts of malfeasance in office, could have up to eight of his malfeasance counts quashed unless prosecutors “adequately identify each specific criminal transaction” that happened in the videos of Greene’s arrest, the court filing states.

A ninth malfeasance count against York will also be quashed for “disjunctive charges” unless prosecutors can fix issues raised by the court. “Disjunctive” and “conjunctive” are technical terms referring to how charges are written. The Monday ruling did not consider York’s homicide charge.

John Clary, a Louisiana State Police lieutenant when he was indicted on one count of malfeasance in office and one count of obstruction of justice, could have the malfeasance charge quashed unless prosecutors make amendments to the charge, including providing exact moments in the video evidence supporting their accusations, according to the ruling.

In an earlier hearing, Clary’s attorney stated the veteran trooper never touched Greene and submitted his body-worn video before his shift ended, challenging allegations the video was hidden from investigators.

Chris Harpin, a Union Parish deputy sheriff at the time of Greene’s arrest, could have two of the three malfeasance in office charges against him quashed—one because of disjunctive charges and another due to a lack of time stamps on the video on where the assaults on Greene occurred, Rogers wrote.

State Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, who was caught on video saying he “beat the ever-living —-“  out of Greene, died in a high-speed crash on Interstate 20 in September 2020 shortly after learning he was to be fired for his actions during the incident.