by Brooke Kaufman
Baton Rouge, LA — In an interview with the WBRZ Investigative Unit Feb. 18, State Police Colonel Lamar Davis admitted his agency erased the cell phones of top leaders during a state and federal investigation into the death of Ronald Greene. Greene, a Black man, died in police custody after being brutally beaten by state troopers following a high-speed chase. The incident was recorded using body camera footage, and contradicts troopers’ initial statement to Greene’s family that he had died in a car crash.
Davis said cell phone sanitations began in 2014. No documents or logs of the practice were kept, and it is unclear how many phones were cleared. Davis, for his part, became aware of the practice last year and said that’s when policies were changed to reflect state law. These changes took place in the summer of 2021, only after State Police had uncovered evidence of the practice from their legal counsel.
When asked why the second-in-command, Lt. Col. Doug Cain, would need his phone wiped, Davis used the justification that cell phones may contain personal identifiable or otherwise sensitive information. According to WBRZ, the current whereabouts of Cain’s old, department-issued phone are unknown; the phone was wiped in February 2020, and Cain was issued a personal phone.
Davis said his department is looking into the possibility of criminal intent.
“As I’ve said, I’m looking into it to determine there is no criminal intent here,” Davis said in a statement to WBRZ. “If there is criminal intent, I will act upon it. I am not going to say that I know it was turned in for the right reasons.”
Davis said he is working to restore “faith” in the law enforcement agency. He wants members of the public and recruits to consider that, “...it’s not all of State Police. We have bad actors and did not own a lot of stuff we should have been accountable for. We are doing that now.”
Though State Police attempted to defend the practice of cell phone sanitation under the State Office of Technology Services Policy (OTS), the Division of Administration, under which OTS is a branch, denied mandating any such policy.
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