AP continues to break news on the investigation — now reaching into the highest levels of the Louisiana State Police — after the death of Ronald Greene in police custody.
Law enforcement reporters Jim Mustian and Jake Bleiberg kept the AP out front on the fallout from the deadly 2019 arrest of Ronald Greene, exclusively reporting that federal prosecutors are investigating whether top Louisiana State Police brass obstructed justice to protect the troopers seen on body camera video punching, dragging and stunning the Black motorist.
It was just the latest in a string of AP scoops on the highly secretive in-custody death that troopers initially blamed on a car crash.
Mustian and Bleiberg's detailed reporting on the ground in Louisiana documented several specific incidents under scrutiny in which top state police administrators — including the head of the agency — are accused of disregarding evidence against troopers and otherwise trying to keep them from being criminally charged.
That included an incident this past May, just a day after the AP obtained and published the long-withheld body camera video showing the white troopers’ use of violence against Greene at the end of a high-speed chase. Mustian and Bleiberg reported that the federal investigators are looking at the state police superintendent and his top deputy, who traveled 200 miles that day to visit a state prosecutor to go through the video frame by frame, making the case that their troopers’ actions were justified.
To date, none of the troopers involved in Greene’s arrest have been charged with any state or federal crimes. But a half-dozen people familiar with the case who spoke to AP for the story say that could change by the end of the summer, when federal prosecutors are expected to wrap up their investigation.
In addition to those details, Mustian and Bleiberg also exclusively obtained the full confidential file on the Greene case, including evidence photos showing troopers with Greene’s blood on their hands, uniforms and badges.
The pair’s story, accompanied by some of those photos and a video produced by digital storyteller Dario Lopez that featured expert analysis of police body cam footage, won strong play and was also one of the AP's most engaged offerings of the week, with readers spending an average of more than three minutes on the piece.
For strong investigative work to keep exposing the details of a case that had long been shrouded in secrecy, Mustian and Bleiberg win this week’s Best of the States award.