Trooper who faced firing in Black man's death dies in crash

A Louisiana state trooper has died following a single-vehicle highway crash that happened just hours after he learned he would be fired for his role last year in the in-custody death of a Black man.

Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth was pronounced dead Tuesday following a brief hospitalization, Warren Lee, chief investigator for the Ouachita Parish Coroner's Office, told The Associated Press.

Hollingsworth had been airlifted to Shreveport early Monday after crashing his personal vehicle on Interstate 20 near Monroe. Police have not released any details about how the crash occurred.

Hours before, Hollingsworth had received word that State Police intended to terminate him following an internal investigation into the May 2019 death of Ronald Greene, a case that has drawn mounting scrutiny and become the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.

Authorities initially said Greene died 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.

State Police, despite growing pressure, have repeatedly declined to release body-camera footage and other records related to Greene’s arrest, citing the ongoing investigations.

Greene’s family called for “the immediate arrest of the remaining men responsible for this tragic and unnecessary death.”

“Trooper Hollingsworth’s family has the finality of knowing exactly how he died as their community mourns his loss,” said Lee Merritt, a prominent civil rights attorney representing the family. “The family of Ronald Greene, however, is still being denied the same finality by the State of Louisiana.”

Greene’s family has filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit 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.

The controversy deepened last week when Greene’s family released graphic photographs showing deep bruises and cuts to his face, and other photos showing his car with little damage. That raised questions about whether Greene received those injuries in a car crash — as authorities initially told his family — or when troopers arrested him.

State Police have said only that the 49-year-old Greene died “after resisting arrest and a struggle with troopers” who took him into custody. The agency opened an internal investigation into the case last month.

It was not immediately clear what impact Hollingsworth’s death would have on ongoing investigations. Hollingsworth was the only one of the six troopers involved who had been placed on leave. That came Sept. 9 — the same day the AP filed a records request for body camera footage of Greene’s arrest.