No convictions for St Louis officers who beat Black undercover colleague at protest | US news
No convictions have been returned for three white St. Louis police officers accused of beating an undercover black colleague so severely that he underwent multiple surgeries in a protest against the acquittal of another officer.
A jury on Monday acquitted officer Steven Korte of deprivation of rights allegations and of lying to the FBI in connection with the attack on officer Luther Hall.
It happened when Hall was mistaken for a protester during demonstrations that erupted after former police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, was convicted of the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black.
Hall described the 2017 attack on the jury as an “all-rounder”.
Former officer Christopher Myers was also acquitted of a disqualification, but the jury was unable to falsify an evidence destruction verdict against Myers for allegedly smashing Hall’s cell phone. The jury was also bogged down for disenfranchising former officer Dustin Boone, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on cases where the jury could not agree.
Defense lawyers said a malfunction in the police department meant officers and guards on the street were unaware that there were undercover officers working that night. Defenders also questioned Hall’s ability to identify his attackers.
The judgments reignited criticism that an all-white jury was selected to decide the case.
“If an undercover cop can’t get justice, how will the rest of us who have been macedated, shot, beaten, and brutalized ever get justice?” Cori Bush, a black congresswoman who represents the Missouri district, which includes St. Louis, tweeted.
Two other officers, Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta, who are both white, have filed pleas in the case. Hays pleaded guilty in 2018, admitting hitting Hall with a baton and knocking him to the ground. Colletta pleaded guilty to false statements about the attack to the grand jury.
The St. Louis area was still recovering from the unrest following the fatal police shootings of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson in 2014. Two nights after Stockley’s acquittal, protesters broke downtown windows. Police arrested 123 people, but protesters and civil rights activists said many of those arrested were peaceful protesters, journalists and bystanders who were brutalized and ridiculed.
Hall, who had recorded criminal activity during the protests, was separated from his partner when he fled officials who fired pepper spray pellets and beanbag bullets into the crowd.
U.S. assistant attorney Carrie Costantin told jurors that when Hall followed the instructions to stand, he was knocked down, beaten, picked up and knocked down again before being attacked with fists, feet and a baton.
Hall said he didn’t push, fight, or pull the officers away. He said he was stunned.
“I couldn’t believe it was happening,” he told the jury.
Prosecutors said two of the officers, Myers and Boone, were motivated by willingness to harm protesters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Hall didn’t tell officials he was undercover because he didn’t want to ruin his chances of working undercover in future protests. A sergeant later recognized Hall and had him pulled aside.
Hall suffered a hole in his lip that had to be sewn shut, injuries to his jaw, and injuries to his neck that later required a spinal fusion. He was also unable to consume solid foods for weeks, which caused him to lose 20 pounds.
Hall sued the department and officials, including Myers and Boone, recently settled the case against the department for $ 5 million. He stays in the department. Korte is still in the department, but the others have all left.