Even as AP reports May 20 Davis/Belton meeting subject of Federal investigation, Louisiana Gov. Edwards says media reports of State Police cover-up are “overblown or just false.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

Appearing on Wednesday’s (September 15, 2021) “Ask the Governor” Jim Engster show and as reported thereafter by The Louisiana Illuminator the next day (Thursday, September 16, 2021), Gov. Edwards strongly downplayed any cover-up by Louisiana State Police (LSP) regarding the May 10, 2019 in-custody death of Ronald Greene.  Edwards even appeared to spar with Engster over Engster’s statement that the initial cause of death reported by LSP (that it was a vehicle accident) was “a falsehood.”  Rarely will one ever find a host of a broadcast more Edwards-friendly than Engster, so let’s listen in on the segment where they discussed Greene’s death and any potential LSP cover-up with special focus near the end with Edwards saying he doesn’t want to “quibble” with Engster over the cause of Greene’s death:

Engster and Edwards discuss any LSP cover-up entailing Ronald Greene’s death on Wednesday’s (September 15, 2021) “Ask the Governor” Jim Engster show.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at a few segments of that Louisiana Illuminator feature which augment the above Engster segment:

In an interview with the Illuminator, Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Louisiana police watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the governor is not privy to the details of those inquiries.

“The information that he is getting is probably coming from the State Police, which is the subject of the investigation,” Goyeneche said. “My advice to the public is to take what the governor is saying with a few grains of salt.”

State Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), who serves as chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus — a close ally of Edwards — said he was disappointed to hear the governor downplayed a cover-up in the case.

“It’s clear everywhere else across the state that the State Police did everything to try to conceal and hide the truth,” James said.

James said the cover-up allegations didn’t just arise when the agency withheld videos from the public. Troopers told Greene’s family that he died on impact in the wreck, concealed body-camera footage and lied to internal affairs investigators, he said.

In an attempt to regain public trust in the agency, State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis held a press conference last week to highlight some police reforms.

But James said he has zero confidence in the agency.

“I’m very disappointed that the governor doesn’t see this as a cover-up,” James said. “Ray Charles could have seen this is a cover-up. It’s glaring.”

Also breaking this week, our subscribers may recall us calling upon LSP Col. Lamar Davis at a September 10, 2021 hastily-arranged press conference to “clear the air” regarding a controversial meeting between him, Union Parish District Attorney John Belton, LSP Lt. Col. Doug Cain, LSP Lt. Col. Chavez Cammon, LSP’s then-chief Legal Counsel Faye Morrison, Belton’s chief assistant, and one other member of Belton’s staff.  Let’s provide video again of Davis’ response to our question:

LSP Col. Davis responds to Burns’ question on the accuracy of the AP report stating that he tried to convince DA John Belton that LSP troopers’ actions in the arrest of Ronald Greene were “justified.”

Last week, the AP doubled-down on its prior report when it published this feature on Davis’ press conference on Friday, September 10, 2021 in stating that the meeting itself “has become the subject of a Federal investigation into possible obstruction of justice.”  From the feature:

Davis also sought to play down a meeting on May 20 — the day after AP published graphic footage of Greene’s death — in which state police brass traveled to Ruston to review the long-concealed body camera video with John Belton, the Union Parish district attorney. Belton became so concerned with the circumstances of Greene’s death two years ago that he referred the case to federal authorities, who began a civil rights investigation.

The command staff made the case during the meeting that the troopers’ actions had been justified during Greene’s arrest, according to several people familiar with the meeting, which itself has become the subject of a federal investigation into possible obstruction of justice. But Davis on Friday insisted he had not asked Belton “or any other official to not pursue charges on any of my employees” in Greene’s death.

“I would never do that,” Davis said. “I have never done that.”

Things appear to be getting interesting for sure.  We’ll wrap this feature up by fulfilling the desires of some of our most dedicated subscribers.  They asked us to first make sure anyone following this blog would be aware why Gov. Edwards is going to back law enforcement no matter what the circumstances.  Here would be the possible reason stated in a mere 11 seconds:

Gov. Edwards touts his family’s strong ties to law enforcement, particularly sheriffs, which have long controlled LSP’s operations through the Louisiana Sheriffs Association.

Finally, those same subscribers asked that we reintroduce a theme song we adopted entailing Edwards not long after he was elected Governor, so here is that theme song now resurrected  almost four years later:

Sound Off Louisiana theme song adopted for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards not long after he was elected Governor of Louisiana in 2015.

During the Engster interview, one caller asked for Edwards to consider running for President of the United States.  Not only did Edwards rule that out (in stating, “I love my wife and want to keep her,” in indicating she would not be on board for a Presidential run), but he also ruled out challenging John Kennedy for U. S. Senate next year.  He indicated that he looks forward to returning to his family home and resuming working in private practice.  Let’s give him credit for one thing:  he knows his political career, just as was the case for his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, is over.

Having said that, if the best the GOP has to offer in 2023 is Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Attorney General Jeff Landry, don’t be surprised if a dark horse in the person of Gary Smith (D-Norco) doesn’t become the next one to pull off a feat similar to Edwards’ own incredible feat in 2015.  It is truly a sad state of affairs in Louisiana politics unless there are changes in the offing for the GOP major announced field of contenders for the Governor’s Mansion in 2023!  We sure hope such changes ARE in the offing!

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