AP’s public records request answers the question, “What did the governor know, and when did he know it?”
Federal law enforcement reporters Jim Mustian and Jake Bleiberg extended their streak of exclusives on the 2019 death of motorist Ronald Greene in Louisiana State Police custody, this time revealing that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards was informed within hours that troopers engaged in a “violent, lengthy struggle,” yet he kept quiet for two years as police put forth the public narrative that Greene died from a crash after a high-speed chase.
After months of public records requests, the pair obtained a text message showing Edwards was informed of Greene’s May 2019 arrest just nine hours after it happened. The reporters pieced together a timeline showing how the governor said almost nothing about the case for the next two years while state police pressed the false crash narrative in official reports and with Greene’s family. The truth emerged last May when AP obtained and published long-withheld body camera footage showing what really happened: white troopers jolting Greene with stun guns, punching him in the face and dragging him by his ankle shackles as he pleaded for mercy and wailed, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!”
Mustian and Bleiberg’s bombshell, the product of months of reporting, resulted days later in the state’s top GOP lawmaker announcing he is weighing legislative action against Edwards for his “gross misconduct and the highest level of deceit.”
Mustian and Bleiberg have led coverage of the Greene case and its fallout every step of the way, uncovering a pattern of Louisiana State Police beatings against mostly Black motorists and an institutional failure of accountability.
Their latest piece ran in banner headlines above the fold in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and virtually every other newspaper in the state, while receiving prominent play on news sites across the country.
For relentless investigative reporting, pursuing a case of police misconduct all the way to the highest elected official in the state, Mustian and Bleiberg are AP’s Best of the Week – Second Winners.