*

upload_article_image

Trooper quietly buried amid scrutiny over Black man's death

A Louisiana state trooper who died in a single-car crash just hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest.

State Police officials and family members mourned Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth under tight security at services that marked the latest turn in the long-simmering in-custody death case of Ronald Greene, which has prompted a federal civil-rights probe and increasing calls for authorities to release body-camera video.

Hollingsworth was the only one of six troopers placed on leave earlier this month in the May 2019 death of Greene following a high-speed chase. Police initially told Greene’s family he died from injuries in a crash but later acknowledged troopers “struggled” with him during the arrest. Greene’s family has filed a federal wrongful-death suit alleging troopers “brutalized” him, shocked him three times with a stun gun and left him “beaten, bloodied and in cardiac arrest.”

Troopers stand at ease with their hands folded, across from some of the family and friends that witnessed the burial services for Louisiana State Police Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth was killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the in-custody death of a Black man. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

Hollingsworth died Tuesday from injuries suffered in a single-car highway crash in Monroe that came just hours after he received a letter informing him that State Police intended to fire him over his role in Greene's death.

State police have refused to release that letter or any details of how the highway crash occurred. And despite mounting pressure, the agency has repeatedly refused to release body camera footage from Greene's arrest, citing the ongoing state and federal investigations.

On Friday, mourners packed the New Chapel Hill Baptist Church where Hollingsworth had been a member, filling its parking lots to capacity on a misty and overcast day.

Ronald Greene smiles in an undated photo provided by his family. Officials told The Associated Press, federal authorities are investigating the death of Greene during what Louisiana State Police described as a struggle to take him into custody following a rural police chase last year. The death of the 49-year-old remains shrouded in secrecy because State Police have declined to release body-camera footage related to the May 2019 chase north of Monroe, La. (Courtesy of the Greene family via AP)

The services were closed to the public despite a major police presence that included contingency plans for snipers, drones and a SWAT team to respond to any large disturbance, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the plans who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The plans underscored the growing unrest in communities around the country where demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice and the killing of Black people by police.

While no protests materialized around the funeral, activists planned a march to the Governor's Mansion later Friday in Baton Rouge “for all those affected by violence or death at the hands of law enforcement officers.”

Troopers of the Louisiana State Police gather at the burial site of Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

Gov. John Bel Edwards was not in attendance at Friday’s ceremony, which included a State Police honor guard and escort for Hollingsworth, who served nearly three decades in law enforcement.

Unlike other trooper deaths, Hollingsworth’s was not announced internally by the agency’s superintendent, Col. Kevin Reeves.

“The Hollingsworth family has elected to have a private ceremony for family and friends and asks for privacy at this time,” said Lt. Nick Manale, a State Police spokesman. “Retired departmental personnel and active duty troopers who pass away in a non-line-of-duty death are afforded Honor Guard representation based on the requests of the family.”

Members of a Louisiana State Police honor guard conclude their practice of folding an American flag to be presented to the family of Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth during burial services, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

An online fundraiser for the trooper’s family said Hollingsworth would be remembered for his “quick, contagious smile and his dedication” to his schoolteacher wife of 21 years and their teenage son.

This undated photo provided by his family in September 2020 shows Ronald Greene. Authorities initially said Greene died in May 2019 after crashing his vehicle into a tree following a high-speed chase in rural northern Louisiana that began over an unspecified traffic violation. But Greene’s family alleges troopers used excessive force and “brutalized” him while taking him into custody. (Family photo via AP)

A black ribbon is placed across the badge of a trooper with the Louisiana State Police at the funeral services for Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

A heavy Louisiana State Police presence is seen at the New Chapel Hill Baptist Church during funeral services for Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

Attendees of the funeral services for Louisiana State Police Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, walk past a suspended American flag, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

Members of a Louisiana State Police honor guard conclude their practice of folding an American flag to be presented to the family of Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth during burial services, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in West Monroe, La. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

Motorcycles and helmets are ready to escort the hearse carrying the body of Louisiana State Police Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, to its burial site in West Monroe, La., Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Hollingsworth, killed in a car crash hours after he was told he would be fired for his role in the death of a Black man, was buried with honors Friday at a ceremony that authorities sought to keep secret out of concerns it would attract a mass protest. (AP PhotoRogelio V. Solis)

This undated photo provided by his family in September 2020 shows Ronald Greene. Authorities initially said Greene died in May 2019 after crashing his vehicle into a tree following a high-speed chase in rural northern Louisiana that began over an unspecified traffic violation. But Greene’s family alleges troopers used excessive force and “brutalized” him while taking him into custody. (Family photo via AP)

EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - This undated photo provided by the family of Ronald Greene via the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP in September 2020 shows injuries on his body. Greene's family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit in May 2020 alleging troopers "brutalized" Greene, used a stun gun on him three times and "left him beaten, bloodied and in cardiac arrest" before covering up his actual cause of death. Officials originally said his injuries were caused by the crash that ended a May 2019 police chase or an ensuing struggle with state troopers. (Family photo via AP)

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2020 file photo, family members of Ronald Greene listen to speakers as demonstrators gather for the March on Washington, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. Officials told The Associated Press, federal authorities are investigating the death of Greene during what Louisiana State Police described as a struggle to take him into custody following a rural police chase last year. The death of the 49-year-old remains shrouded in secrecy because State Police have declined to release body-camera footage related to the May 2019 chase north of Monroe, La. (Michael M. SantiagoPool via AP)