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Louisiana State Police senior officer on leave over phone data in Ronald Greene’s death

<i>Jim Mustian/AP</i><br/>Louisiana State Police Lt. Col. Doug Cain
Jim Mustian/AP
Louisiana State Police Lt. Col. Doug Cain

By Nick Valencia, Jade Gordon and Alta Spells, CNN

The second in command in the Louisiana State Police (LSP), who was accused of erasing data from his work cellphone after the death of Ronald Greene, has been placed on administrative leave nearly three years after the Black motorist’s death.

On Friday, the head of the law enforcement agency, Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis, said he “placed Lt. Col. Doug Cain on paid administrative leave pending the ongoing administrative investigation into the sanitization of his department cellular device,” in a statement issued by LSP.

“The decision to place him on leave was made in the best interest of the department to eliminate any questions into the integrity of the investigation. I am confident the investigation will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner leaving no concerns of its findings,” said Davis in the statement.

Greene died on May 10, 2019, while in the custody of the Louisiana State Police after a vehicle chase.

The decision to place Cain on administrative leave comes a day after Davis, while testifying in front of a special committee of the Louisiana State legislature investigating Greene’s death, was pressed by lawmakers as to why Cain was still on the job. They also wanted to know why Cain had not yet been placed on leave.

Davis testified he appointed Cain to the number two position within LSP and acknowledged the public might have concerns about Cain still being on the job.

In the hearing, lawmakers expressed Cain’s presence at work could make some troopers uncomfortable and unwilling to come forward with information about potential wrongdoing.

Cain has been implicated as part of an ongoing internal probe by the LSP into Greene’s death and the LSP’s subsequent handling of it.

While Cain was not at the scene of the incident involving Greene, his work phone is alleged to have been sanitized in the wake of Greene’s death.

According to Davis’ testimony, Cain has not been interviewed by internal affairs.

Cain testified before the same committee on March 22. During his testimony, state Rep. Debbie Villio asked him why his cellphone had been sanitized, Cain responded, “I can’t speak to that ma’am.”

After being pressed, he went on to say, “I can’t speak to my cellphone ma’am. I notified the chairman that there’s an internal investigation underway, to ensure transparency by Colonel Davis he’s looking into that matter.”

As the questioning about the phone and transparency continued, Cain told the committee chairman he had been ordered not to speak to it.

CNN reached out to Cain for a comment after he was placed on paid administrative leave but has not heard back. It is unclear whether Cain has an attorney.

The move comes one day after District Attorney John Belton, who has jurisdiction over the town where Greene died, told state lawmakers he plans to convene a special grand jury and pursue criminal charges against the troopers involved in Greene’s death.

Testifying before a special committee of the Louisiana State Legislature investigating Greene’s 2019 death, Belton said a “criminal act” occurred and plans to “move swiftly” to convene a grand jury.

Speaking with CNN after the committee hearing adjourned, Belton reiterated his position, saying, “I have already stated that crimes have been committed.”

The troopers involved have maintained Greene’s death “was caused by crash-related blunt force chest trauma that resulted in a fractured sternum and ruptured aorta,” and have maintained they had to use force to restrain him “for their own personal safety and for the safety of the public,” according to court documents.

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