No convictions in St. Louis officer’s beating by colleagues :: WRAL.com
ST. LOUIS – No convictions were returned for three white St. Louis police officers accused of beating an undercover black colleague so severely that he underwent multiple surgeries while protesting the acquittal of another officer.
A jury on Monday acquitted officer Steven Korte on charges of deprivation of rights under the color of the law and the FBI’s lie in 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 death of a black Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
Hall, who is still in the department, described the 2017 attack on the jury as “free for all.”
Former officer Christopher Myers was also acquitted on Monday for disapproval, but the jury was unable to pass a verdict on the destruction of evidence against Myers for allegedly smashing Hall’s cell phone. The jury was also bogged down after ex-officer Dustin Boone was charged with disenfranchised rights, leading the judge to declare a mistrial in cases where the jury could not agree.
St. Louis police chief John Hayden said Tuesday the department would open a domestic affairs investigation that has been delayed at the request of federal prosecutors to avoid jeopardizing the criminal investigation.
“We hope to now receive all relevant evidence from the FBI to conduct a full and thorough internal investigation,” said Hayden.
It was unclear whether the internal investigation would involve only Korte and not Myers and Boone, who could still bring charges. Hayden said he would not make any further statements or answer questions.
Defense attorneys said the chaos and dysfunction of the St. Louis Police Department meant officers and supervisors on the street were unaware that undercover officers were 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?” US Representative Cori Bush, a black Democrat who represents the Missouri district, which includes St. Louis, tweeted.
Korte’s attorney, John Rogers, praised his client’s acquittal and said outside the courthouse that Korte “can now return to the St. Louis Police Department if he chooses”. Korte is still employed in the division but has not taken up duty since he was charged.
Attorney Scott Rosenblum, who represented Myers, claimed, as during the trial, that federal prosecution failed to prove that Myers was among those who defeated Hall. Following Monday’s ruling, he accused prosecutors of basing their case on rumors from the department.
A Boone attorney, Patrick Kilgore, of St. Louis, did not immediately return phone and email messages left on Tuesday and sought comment.
Two other officers, Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta, who are also white, were previously guilty. Hays admitted 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, 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 Myers and Boone were motivated to harm the 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 unable to consume solid foods for weeks, causing him to lose 9.1 kilograms.
Hall recently settled a $ 5 million lawsuit against the division.