Four St. Louis police officers were indicted on Federal charges this week in connection with the assault of an undercover officer during the Jason Stockley court ruling protests that took place in 2017.
The four St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers that are named in the indictment are Dustin Boone, 30, Bailey Colletta, 25, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Meyers, 27. All four of the officers have been suspended without pay from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police force.
In a statement to the press, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards praised the department and its dedicated officers by stating, “who do exceptional work.”
“In a few instances, some officers have fallen short of the professionalism required to work in our police department,” Edwards said. “I take accountability and transparency very seriously. When a public safety employee acts outside the scope of their authority, it is imperative that they be held accountable to the fullest extent under the law.”
In September of 2017, the FBI started an investigation into allegations made that an undercover St. Louis Police officer had been assaulted in a September 2017 protest that took place in downtown St. Louis and resulted in more than 140 arrests. It is reported that the police used a controversial tactic that night that has been the subject of several lawsuits. The tactic is known as “kettling,” where officers first surround a large group and then arrest the group. The group surrounded that night included protesters, livestreamers, journalists and the undercover officer in question.
The protest that night stemmed from weeks of protests that were centered on the former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who was white and was found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black.
In a statement to the press released Thursday evening, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner referred to the alleged action s of the officers “disheartening.”
Gardner went on by stating that her office has had to dismiss 91 cases involving the four officers and “will continue to review additional cases were these officers’ testimony of involvement is fundamental.”
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the allegations against the officers “do not reflect the standards we hold ourselves to as public servants.”
Police Cheif John Hayden said he was disappointed by the allegations in a written statement released Thursday.
“However, it is in no way reflective of the hard work and dedication exhibited by the men and women of our department who serve the community on a daily basis with integrity and honor,” he said.
All four officers were reportedly assigned to the Civil Disobedience Team preparing for the unrest that was assumed to follow the Stockley verdict. According to the DOJ, the Unit and its officers were tasked with “controlling the crowd as needed and arresting those individuals from whom there was probable cause to believe that they had committed crimes.
A St. Louis Officer referred to as “L.H” in the indictment was working undercover during the protest. A federal grand jury charged Boone, Hays, and Meyers with using “unreasonable force” on L.H. that resulted in bodily injury. L.H. has been an officer for 22 years.
The charges include the use of a dangerous weapon, riot baton, and shoes. Allegations against Boone, Hayes, and Meyers also say that the officers threw L.H. to the ground then kicked and struck him while he was “compliant and not posing a physical threat.”
The same three officers were also indicted with conspiracy to obstruct justice, including a charge against Meyers for attempting to destroy the undercover officer’s cell phone. The officers, including Colletta, are also charged with obstructing justice for misleading a grand jury with false statements.
Meyers, Boone, and Hays talk about their intentions via text message that night.
“I know right. Yes I guess so, let’s go whoop some a**,” Myers wrote to an unknown person on Sept. 15.
“The more the merrier!!! It’s gonna get IGNORANT tonight!! 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!!!!” Boone wrote.
In a series of other texts, Boone wrote that he wants to “f*** people up when they don’t act right!”
On September 17, days after the initial days of protest, Boone wrote, “Yeah a lot of cops gettin hurt, but it’s still a blast beating people that deserve it. And I’m not one of the people hurt, so I’m enjoying each night…”
In an October exchange, days after a September protest at St. Louis Galleria, Boone told Hayes that he should “stay in check as well.” To which Hays responded,
“Remember, we are in south city. They support us but also cameras. So make sure you have an old white dude as a witness.”
Three of the four officers could get as many as 10 years for the excessive force charge, and the defendants could receive up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of obstructing justice. The charges could come with fines close to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Jenses said in a DOJ statement, “These are serious charges and the vigorous enforcement of civil rights is essential to maintaining public trust in law enforcement.”
“I continue to have great confidence in the brave and honorable men and women of the SLMPD, Chief John Hayden and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards,” Jenses said.
Tony Rothert, the ACLU of Missouri’s legal director said that the indictment was a first step in “addressing the culture that has allowed the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to consistently behave in an unconstitutional manner,”
“While these officers have been indicted for illegally abusing an undercover officer they mistook for a protester, there has still been no real accountability for the individual officers who engaged in the same behavior toward protesters,” he said.
Jones Brown Law
At the law offices of Jones Brown, we pride ourselves on principles of honesty, hard work, fair dealing and compassion in our representation. Our attorneys and staff are committed to adhering to a strict code of professional ethics. We dedicate ourselves to our clients’ best interests and making the legal process as painless and simple as possible for the injured and their family. Our mission is to make accessible legal help and services for everyone by answering questions at no cost and with no obligation. We aim to make the world of law understandable to all.