St. Louis Judge Dismisses Charges Against Rev. Darryl Gray

The long-running legal saga stems from the 2017 Jason Stockley protests, and it might not be over yet

click to enlarge Charges against Darryl Gray, pictured with Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, were dismissed this morning.
DOYLE MURPHY
Charges against Darryl Gray, pictured with Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, were dismissed this morning.

This morning, a judge in the 22nd Circuit Court of St. Louis dismissed five-year-old charges against Darryl Gray, a reverend and activist who was charged with interfering with law enforcement.

The case against Gray stems from a 2017 incident at protests following the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley who had been accused of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old Black man.

In September of that year, Gray and other members of the clergy attended a protest that took place after a Cardinals game. The clergy members were there to act as a buffer between protesters and police.

Other members of the clergy there that night told the RFT that police officers manhandled two female pastors near the stadium, and when Gray protested verbally, he was body-slammed by an officer to the ground.
However, officers at the scene said that no one touched the female pastors and gave their own version of events in which an enraged Gray pushed an officer in the chest.

Gray’s attorney, Javad Khazaeli tells the RFT that those officers are now refusing to testify.

The case was first litigated in municipal court, where Gray was found guilty in 2019.

That trial was a bench trial, meaning there was no jury. It was also conducted without depositions or discovery. The judge, like all municipal judges, is appointed by the mayor.

Gray appealed and won a new trial, this time in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Khazaeli made the most of the new venue, which allowed him to take depositions and request discovery from the city.

Last week, Khazaeli filed the motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the city's court filings against Gray were woefully inadequate.

Khazaeli wrote in his motion that the city "provides no detail, no alleged facts at all."

He also wrote that the city is "failing to provide this Court sufficient information to consider whether any violation of any ordinance is even alleged."

Court filings made by the City Counselor's Office accuse Gray of interfering, obstructing or hindering law enforcement.

In a preliminary hearing in court on Wednesday, Khazaeli wondered aloud about the city's use of the word "or."

“Which one of the three is it?” he asked. But it was one request that seems to have caused the case to get dismissed.

"We successfully argued that the city had an obligation to share with us derogatory information about the officers' credibility," Khazaeli says. "As soon as they were ordered to do that, their two main officers … refused to testify."

Gray's current case has been winding its way through the Circuit Court since December 2019.

In a 2020 statement, the City Counselor's Office blamed Gray for the case's long life, saying Gray is one who has "chosen to spend more time [in the circuit court] seeking an appeal."
Although St. Louis Circuit Judge Theresa Burke dismissed the case, she rejected the defense's request to do so with prejudice, meaning the City Counselor's Office could appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals or refile the charge.

"The maximum amount of money the taxpayers would get on this case is $500," Khazaeli says, referring to the maximum penalty Gray faces. "It's clear that the city has spent many, many times that."

The criminal case against Gray is playing out against the backdrop of a long-running federal civil rights lawsuit brought by Gray in 2018 against the City of St. Louis and the officers Gray alleges beat him in September 2017.

The RFT reached out to the City Counselor's Office for comment. We will update the story when we hear back.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]
or follow on Twitter at @RyanWKrull.

About The Author

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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