Four St. Louis police officers were indicted on Thursday on federal charges. The indictment indicates that three of them beat an undercover colleague during protests last year and all four of the officers involved covered it up.
The indictment also claims that several of the officers talked about their “disdain” for protesters and their “excitement about using unjustified force against them and going undetected while doing so.”
According to prosecutors, Officers Dustin Boone, Christopher Myers, and Randy Hays threw a 22-year police veteran to the ground and began to kick him while assaulting him with a police baton on Sept. 17, 2017. It allegedly occurred during protests downtown after the acquittal of former police Officer Jason Stockley on a murder charge for the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.
They thought the undercover officer was a protester and allegedly beat him even though he was being compliant and not threatening physical harm.
Boone, 35, Hays, 31, and Myers, 27, all face charges of depriving Hall of his constitutional rights and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Myers also faces a charge of destruction of evidence relating to the cellphone, and Colletta, 25, faces a charge of attempting to obstruct grand jury proceedings.
Because the officers are members of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, their legal representation is being provided by the organization.
Jeff Roorda, the business manager of the association, has referred all questions to the officers’ attorneys, stating: “We encourage elected officials, the media and the public to allow them their day in court without speculation about their guilt or innocence.”
You can read the indictment here:
The undercover officer in the indictment was referred to as “L.H.” Given the gender and age of the officer, there’s only one match: Luther Hall. He was working undercover to help other officers identify criminal activity among protesters, sources said.
The tables turned and the officer became a victim. After discovering that the person they attacked was a fellow undercover St. Louis police officer, the three male officers lied about the arrest, claiming the man resisted arrest and was not compliant, the indictment says.
When that didn’t work, the three officers in question tried to contact the undercover officer to dissuade him from pursuing disciplinary or legal action, the indictment read.
Hall’s injuries appeared to be extensive and he has not returned to work. The extent of his injuries included: a swollen jaw from being kicked in the face repeatedly to the point where he could not eat, a two-centimeter cut above his lip which left a hole, an injury to his tailbone and two herniated disks in his neck and back which required surgery to repair.
Sources stated that his weight dropped from 185 pounds to 165 pounds because of his inability to eat solid food.
He also still wears a collar to keep his neck immobile and has not been able to return to duty.
A series of text messages were sent between the officers after the verdict was rendered.
In one Sept. 15, 2017 message, Myers writes “let’s whoop some ass.”
On Oct. 5, 2017, Hays writes “going rogue does feel good.”
Boone later replies that “it’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these (expletive) once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!!!” On Sept. 17, he wrote that it was “a blast beating people that deserve it.”
The four officers have been suspended without pay pending the investigation.
Police Chief John Hayden said police sought the FBI’s help after learning about the allegations involving Hall. He issued a statement saying:
“I am deeply disappointed in the alleged actions of these individual officers; 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.”
The jarring implications of this incident and the indictment are even when the officers discovered that they had brutally beaten one of their own, there was an expectation for the victim to uphold the “blue wall of silence.” Depending on how you view it, Hall is lucky that the beating didn’t kill him because the truth could’ve been buried with him forever.
In St. Louis and surrounding areas like Ferguson, there is a blatant contempt for Black lives. With the recent violent deaths and “suicides” of Ferguson activists, perhaps an independent investigation by the Department of Justice should be done to ensure that rogue police officers aren’t taking “justice” into their own hands.