Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Indicted St. Louis Cop Kenneth Grooms Can't Carry a Gun, Judge Rules

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 12:42 PM

click to enlarge A St. Louis police officer says he needs his gun. - PHOTO VIA KEN / FLICKR
  • Photo via Ken / Flickr
  • A St. Louis police officer says he needs his gun.


A St. Louis cop who'd fought back on the requirement that he not carry a gun while facing a criminal charge is going to have to tough it out with the unarmed masses.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Bodenhausen this morning denied Officer Kenneth Grooms' request to carry a weapon off-duty while he's out of jail on bond.



Grooms was arrested in February on a misdemeanor charge of deprivation of civil rights, and he has complained that he and his family are at risk now that he can't have his gun. The veteran officer patrolled the high-crime Sixth District and worries he may have made some enemies.

His attorney, Luke Baumstark, argues that his client is particularly vulnerable because people have read about the case in the Riverfront Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including an RFT follow-up story about his request to carry, and now know he is unarmed.

As evidence of Grooms' peril, Baumstark provided the text of a stranger's Facebook message: "Oh, but you're so tough. No gun for you, punk."

Bodenhausen said he is sensitive to some added risks off-duty officers might face, but he wasn't particularly moved by the Facebook message.

"I don't find it to be that threatening, to be honest with you," the judge said this morning in court.

Grooms is accused of snatching up an unnamed man on May 5, 2018, putting him in his car and driving around with him, reportedly because the man had argued with Grooms' girlfriend. And apparently, he may have used his gun to make a point to his victim.

"In addition, the Government is prepared to present evidence that during the instant offense, after the defendant seized the victim, arrested him, and removed him from the vicinity of any witnesses, the defendant berated the victim while the defendant's hand was on his gun during the incident," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Winfield wrote in a motion opposing Grooms' request.

Winfield pointed out that Grooms was placed on administrative duty after he was indicted, meaning he's behind a desk, not out patrolling the Sixth District. And while Baumstark had noted that his client had spent parts of his childhood in the district and was known there, Winfield said he seems to live in the county now.

Bodenhausen ultimately agreed to let Grooms carry while at work, although he questioned whether the police department allowed officers on administrative duty to have guns.

Still, the judge said he's not going to let him carry off-duty.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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