Louisiana State Police trooper fired for speaking out about a Black man’s death in custody and cover-up – USA TODAY

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The Louisiana State Police on Monday fired a trooper who helped expose how the department allegedly covered up the death of an unarmed Black motorist, Ronald Greene, in 2019. 

The department fired Trooper Carl Cavalier for disloyalty, seeking publicity and other infractions related to his “openly critical” public statements about the Greene case, according to the termination letter. 

“They’re trying to make an example out of me to keep people from speaking up,” Cavalier said in an interview. “It’s a horrible feeling because I worked so hard to be a part of the department.” 

Cavalier was one of several police officers featured in a recent USA TODAY series on law enforcement’s blue wall of silence. The newspaper’s investigation found that departments around the country – especially in Louisiana – frequently retaliate against whistleblowers in order to hide misconduct. Cavalier is the latest officer who has faced additional repercussions after speaking to reporters, including one in Illinois who was ousted from his union.

Last summer, Cavalier leaked emails and other documents showing that the State Police brass blocked internal investigators when they wanted to arrest one of the troopers involved in Greene’s death. Then he sat down for interviews with WBRZ and other local news outlets to explain the evidence. 

Cavalier, who is Black, has also alleged widespread racism within the department and said its leaders need to be held accountable for not fixing the problems. The department is currently under a federal investigation into the Greene case and possible obstruction of justice, according to media reports.  

No troopers have been charged with a crime in Greene’s death. The State Police suspended one officer involved and fired another. A third trooper died in a single-vehicle car crash hours after he learned he would also be terminated for his role. 

Louisiana State Police Colonel Lamar Davis, who was appointed superintendent in October 2020, said Cavalier violated an array of policies by disseminating “confidential information” and making unauthorized public comments that Davis characterized as untruthful and unsubstantiated. 

“Your conduct has brought discredit upon yourself,” Davis wrote in Cavalier’s termination letter, “and has destroyed public respect for State Police officers.” Davis, who is also Black, said Cavalier was warned to stop speaking out but ignored the order. 

In an interview Wednesday, Cavalier, who first started working at the State Police in 2014, said he is appealing the termination. He also filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and whistleblower retaliation last November. 

“To be on the outside looking in, it’s just appalling,” Cavalier told USA TODAY. “I’m hoping I can get my job back.” 

Louisiana State Police spokesperson Capt. Nick Manale said in an email that Cavalier, who was not personally involved in the Greene incident, leveled several complaints against individuals in the department that were investigated and determined to be unfounded.

Manale added that the department began investigating the Greene incident the day Greene died and that the district attorney gave federal officials case files in September 2019, before Cavalier went public. 

In an interview late last year, Davis told USA TODAY that the Greene scandal prompted a raft of reforms, including bystander intervention training and quarterly reviews of bodycam footage. “I’m not one that believes in covering up and that blue wall of silence,” he said.

At the time, Davis would not discuss Cavalier’s situation specifically. But he said he values transparency and that officers would be within their rights to report misconduct to the FBI or attorney general if they felt the internal grievance procedure had fallen short. 

When asked if troopers had the same right to talk to the media, or if that would be considered disloyal, Davis replied, “I can’t go there.” 

Last year, the Associated Press published videos showing State Police troopers beating, stunning and dragging Greene after a car chase in 2019 outside Monroe. “I’m sorry,” he pleaded, blood splashed on his skin and clothes. “I beat the ever-living f— out of him,” one officer said in an audio recording. Greene stopped breathing soon after. 

For almost two years, troopers lied to Greene’s mother by saying her son had died in a car crash. They had refused to release the videos revealing the truth. 

Since the federal investigation launched, pressure has mounted not only on the department but also in the state’s highest office. The AP reported last week that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, was notified of the circumstances of Greene’s death within hours back in 2019 but did not publicly acknowledge those details

At a press conference yesterday, Edwards denied taking part in a cover-up or stalling an investigation into the case during his reelection bid. “Nothing like that has ever happened because of me,” he said. “That is not who I am as a person.”

Edwards also added his strongest public condemnation of the case to date: “The manner in which Mr. Greene was treated that night was criminal.”