St. Louis Police to Resume Investigation of Black Detective's Beating Following Verdict

Detective Luther Hall suffered serious injuries when he was beaten by police while posing as a protester. - COURT EXHIBIT
Detective Luther Hall suffered serious injuries when he was beaten by police while posing as a protester.

Now that the federal trial is over, St. Louis police Chief John Hayden says his department plans to restart an internal investigation into three officers accused of beating a Black detective.

Federal jurors returned a mixed verdict on Monday in the trial of current St. Louis police officer Steven Korte and former officers Dustin Boone and Christopher Myers. The trio were charged with depriving Det. Luther Hall of his civil rights during a violent arrest in 2017 when Hall was working undercover and posing as a protester. Hall was severely beaten by police, but attorneys for the men claimed their clients were falsely identified as the assailants.

This morning, Hayden released a statement, saying his department hoped to use information gathered by the FBI to bolster a long-delayed internal investigation by his department.

"Officer accountability is, and has been, a pillar of my administration," Hayden says in the news release. "At the behest of the federal authorities and the United States Attorney’s Office, our Department has delayed any internal investigation into the assault of Officer Hall so as not to compromise the criminal investigation. Our Department has fully cooperated with the federal investigation and has been assured that the FBI will fully cooperate with our internal investigation. It is our hope to now obtain all relevant evidence from the FBI to conduct a complete and thorough internal investigation."

The federal jury, comprising eleven white people and one Black juror who started the trial as an alternate, acquitted Korte and Myers of the civil rights charge but couldn't reach a decision on Boone. The jury also deadlocked on a separate charge against Myers, who was accused of smashing a phone Hall was using to record the protests. Journalists and protesters arrested the same night reported that police targeted people with cameras, allegedly to hide abusive tactics.

Monday's verdict was widely criticized as an example of white officers acting with impunity, even when the victim was a fellow officer. The evidence prosecutors presented at trial included a series of text messages in which Boone and Myers brag about the possibility of beating protesters. Further texts following the attack on Hall, show Boone and fellow officer Randy Hays seemingly admitting to being involved. Attorneys claimed the texts were taken out of context.

Both mayoral candidates released statements after the verdict promising sweeping reforms of the police department, and the Ethical Society of Police, an organization representing Black officers in St. Louis, said there was "clear evidence" to convict the officers.

Hayden's statement raises the possibility of new criminal charges in state court.

Two now-former officers, Hays and Bailey Colletta, previously pleaded guilty in the federal case. Hays testified at trial against his former colleagues. But there were also rumblings of other officers involved. Sgt. Joseph Marcantano was among the officers who testified for the government, doing so after signing a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors who promised not to charge him. In a civil suit that Hall settled with the city for $5 million, he named Marcantano as one of the officers involved in the attack.

It's also possible that federal prosecutors could retry Boone and Myers on the charges that jurors couldn't agree on. A spokesman said in an email that the U.S. Attorney would have no comment on the verdict "as this case is active pending re-trial."

Protesters, journalists and others caught up in mass arrests during the protests in 2017 that followed the acquittal of ex-cop Jason Stockley of murder reported similar abuse by police. No criminal charges have been filed in response to any of those complaints.

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