Federal law enforcement reporters Jim Mustian and Jake Bleiberg obtained a never-before-released, internal affairs interview with the Louisiana state trooper considered the most violent in the deadly 2019 arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene. Even federal prosecutors did not know the recording existed until AP published it. But the trooper won’t face justice because he died just six days after the interview in a single-car crash that came hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the arrest.
Trooper Chris Hollingsworth’s recorded interview — clips of which were embedded in the story — is a haunting voice from the grave that has complicated the investigation into Greene’s death and kept his grieving relatives from getting full justice. To date, nearly three years later, no one has yet faced criminal charges.
In the two-hour interview. Hollingsworth admits to holding Greene down and bashing him in the head with a flashlight. But Hollingsworth portrays himself as the victim, saying he feared for his life, even as video played over and over shows the white troopers stunning, punching and dragging Greene as he appeared to surrender and wailed, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!”
This was the latest in a string of AP scoops on Greene’s death, which troopers initially blamed on a car crash at the end of a high-speed chase. That was before Mustian obtained the long-withheld video showing the violent arrest. Mustian and Bleiberg have since revealed that Greene’s case was among at least a dozen others over the past decade in which state police troopers or their bosses concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct.
Last week’s story was accompanied by exclusive AP photos of Hollingsworth from the police files, showing him on the night of the arrest with flecks of Greene’s blood dotting his blue uniform and brass badge. The trooper’s words were also pulled together in a concise video edit by Miami video journalist Cody Jackson.
No competitor could match this exclusive. The story fronted all major newspapers in Louisiana, including the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Baton Rouge Advocate, and prompted CNN to conduct its own interviews with Greene's mother and sister.
With presentation designed by digital storytelling producer Dario Lopez and social media from Sophie Rosenbaum, Elise Ryan and Dave Clark, the story earned strong play and top billing on sites including CBS, CNN, ABC and The Washington Post. It also ranked among the AP’s most-engaged stories of the week— one tweet alone pulled in 347,800 impressions and more than 9,600 engagements.