St Louis police officers charged with kicking and beating undercover detective in street protest

Group 'kicked and used riot baton' on colleague after white former officer cleared of murdering black man, prosecutors say

Jane Dalton
Friday 30 November 2018 12:39 GMT
A protester facing police during the demonstration
A protester facing police during the demonstration (Reuters)

Four US police officers have been charged over the beating of an undercover officer they thought was a protester at a street demonstration.

The group, who allegedly kicked and used a riot baton on the detective, have been suspended without pay.

The protest took place in St Louis, Missouri, following a “not guilty” verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a white former police officer who shot dead a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, in 2011.

A judge later ruled police conduct that night had violated demonstrators’ constitutional rights. Officers arbitrarily declared the gathering unlawful even when there was no violence, the judge said, and there was “no credible threat of force or violence to officers or property” when police rounded up people including journalists.

Three of the officers, Dustin Boone, 35, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, are facing felony charges of deprivation of constitutional rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice.

Bailey Colletta, 25, a fellow officer who was in a romantic relationship with Hays, was charged with making misleading assertions and false statements to a grand jury in an attempt to obstruct justice.

The four were working in the department’s civil disobedience team in September last year when they attacked the undercover detective, who they believed was a protester.

The victim, identified only as LH, 22, was working to document any criminal activity during the protests and was “not posing a physical threat to anyone”, prosecutors said.

“Law enforcement officers have an important duty to protect the members of the communities they serve and to enforce the law,” said assistant attorney general Eric Dreiband. “The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute matters involving allegations of federal criminal civil rights violations.”

The indictment said text messages between the male officers before the protests showed a general disdain for the protesters and excitement about using “unjustified force”.

“It’s gonna get IGNORANT tonight,” Boone wrote. “But it’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these s***heads once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!” according to a court document.

He also wrote that it was a “blast beating people that deserve it”.

It’s claimed the officers’ actions resulted in injury to LH and included “the use of a dangerous weapon: shod feet and a riot baton”. The indictment alleges that Boone, Hays, and Myers threw LH to the ground and then kicked and struck him.

Prosecutors also say the officers destroyed the undercover officer’s mobile phone and conspired to obstruct justice afterwards.

The Department of Justice said the four were presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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