Trial of St. Louis Cops Accused of Beating Black Detective Begins
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The trial of three white St. Louis police officers accused of beating a black undercover detective began this afternoon, pitting the police against each other in what is turning out to be an ugly case for the city police.
Federal prosecutors allege Dustin Boone, Christopher Myers and Steven Korte were involved in the brutal arrest of Detective Luther Hall, followed by an inept cover-up. Hall posed as a protester during demonstrations in September 2017 led by the acquittal of ex-St. Louis Cop Jason Stockley for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Two of the defendants’ former colleagues, Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta, have pleaded guilty to the case. Hays admitted hitting, and Colletta confessed she lied to a grand jury and the FBI.
The case against Boone, Myers and Korte was delayed by the pandemic, but is now running in front of an all-white jury with reporters and viewers watching from an overflow room in federal court.
In a preview of the upcoming battle, defense attorney Scott Rosenblum painted a picture of an under-trained, gossip, and ill-prepared police agency whose response to the protests was arbitrary. Rosenblum, who represents Myers, insisted that videos and photos from the night in question show that his client wasn’t even anywhere near Hall at the time of the beating. Rosenblum also outlined a number of interpersonal conflicts and ulterior motives among officials that he believed led to a botched investigation and indictment against his client.
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In his opening address, Rosenblum flared Hays, who is expected to testify on behalf of the prosecution, as a liar telling stories in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence for his role in assaulting Hall. Rosenblum also chose Lt. Kim Allen, who he alleged had started her own investigation, to find her friend Hall along with Sgt. Joseph Marcantano, who was promoted to his current rank despite allegations that he played a prominent role in the beating.
Marcantano only spoke to the FBI to protect himself after Hays pleaded guilty and implicated him, Rosenblum said.
“You will see what Marcantano is all about,” Rosenblum promised the jurors.
The attorney’s testimony placed Myers and other officials in a chaotic situation, forcing them to respond to “anarchists as they were described” with confused instructions from their superiors. The day after Hall’s arrest, police gathered their troops with “rah-rah” speeches like at a high school soccer game, Rosenblum said.
The narrative of dutiful police officers trying to get the most out of the chaos is likely a standout act as the officers’ lawyers work to position their clients as harassed actors fending off violent threats. Boone and Korte attorneys will have the opportunity to deliver their opening address on Wednesday.
More than two dozen civil lawsuits filed as a result of police operations against protests suggest that the police are instigators who want to respond to demonstrations with pepper spray, mass arrests and outright beatings. Allegations in the civil suits reflect descriptions of the violence against Hall, only the plaintiffs in these cases are not police officers and no other criminal charges have been filed.
Their arguments were supported by footage of the officers ‘persistent tactics, a judge’s findings that the police were using pepper spray in retaliation, and a series of text messages retrieved from the officers’ phones during the criminal proceedings.
“”[I]It’s going to be a lot of fun beating those fuckers up once the sun goes down and no one can tell us apart !!! “wrote Boone in one of the many examples.
Hall also filed a civil lawsuit outside of criminal proceedings, describing being beaten by officers and mistaking him for a protester. The city reportedly agreed to settle this case for $ 5 million.
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