State Police second in command placed on leave in connection with Ronald Greene investigation
Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis has placed his second in command on paid leave after legislators investigating the violent in-custody death of Ronald Greene in 2019 expressed repeated frustration about Lt. Col. Doug Cain remaining on the job.
Davis initiated an internal affairs investigation targeting Cain after he had his cell phone "wiped" as the controversy over Greene's death escalated and questions emerged about a possible coverup, but Davis had allowed Cain to continue working until Friday.
Cain has denied any wrongdoing in the Greene case and any participation in a coverup.
“The decision to place him on leave was made in the best interest of the department to eliminate any questions into the integrity of the (internal affairs) investigation,” Davis said in a statement distributed to media. “I am confident the investigation will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner leaving no concerns of its findings.”
Ronald Greene, who was Black, died following a brutal beating by State Police during an arrest after a high-speed, two-parish chase ended in a car wreck in Union Parish.
Lawmakers on a special House committee investigating Greene's death pressed Davis during a hearing Thursday to place Cain on administrative leave.
Democratic Baton Rouge Rep. Denise Marcelle told Davis allowing Cain to stay on the job was "like letting the fox guard the hen house."
Republican Houma Rep. Tanner Magee, chairman of the Ronald Greene investigation committee, told USA Today Network Friday that Davis' action is appropriate.
'Modern day lynching':Louisiana lawmakers begin investigation of Ronald Greene's death
“It’s an unfortunate situation," Magee said. "The committee never asked for Trooper Cain to be investigated. We just wanted to know why he wiped his cell phone.
"But if State Police believe an investigation is warranted, then it can only unbiased if Trooper Cain is on leave."
John Belton, the 3rd District Attorney representing Lincoln and Union parishes, announced Thursday during the committee's hearing he convene a grand jury in Union Parish to seek possible indictments against police on the scene of Greene's fatal arrest.
Belton called the video showing Greene's beating "the worst thing I've ever seen," but said he postponed his own prosecution while the U.S. Justice Department pursued the investigation at federal officials' request.
But Belton said U.S. Attorney Brandon Brown has released him from that commitment, clearing the way for Belton to prosecute potential state charges.
Belton said in a meeting that included Cain that Cain didn't believe crimes committed by police during the arrest. "We disagreed," Belton said.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.