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Friday, May 28, 2021

Ex-Cop Dustin Boone's Racist Texts Are Fair Game, Judge Rules

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2021 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge Ex-St. Louis cop Dustin Boone walks into federal court in 2018. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • Ex-St. Louis cop Dustin Boone walks into federal court in 2018.

Bad news for ex-St. Louis cop Dustin Boone: Federal prosecutors will be able to use his racist texts against him in an upcoming trial.

Boone, who is accused of beating a Black undercover officer he mistook for a protester in 2017, was trying to keep the texts hidden from jurors, arguing they had nothing to do with the case and would unfairly make him look bad. But U.S. District Judge Richard Webber swatted away most of the arguments made by Boone's attorney, Patrick Kilgore, in a ruling handed down on Wednesday.



This means prosecutors can show Boone's March 2017 text to fellow St. Louis police Officer Timothy Strain, a two-word slur: "Fuckin n——-s." And they'll be able to include the string of texts he wrote to fellow officers and friends about forcing someone who took a "TASER to the fuckin dome" to repeatedly say "I'm a pussy" while crying.

See Also: Ex-St. Louis Cop Wants Prosecutors Sanctioned for Revealing Racist Texts

Prosecutors will also be able to admit text messages and a log of Facetime calls that the feds say show Boone livestreamed the beating of undercover Detective Luther Hall in September 2017 to his then-girlfriend.

Hall was posing as a protester following the acquittal of ex-St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. Uniformed officers beat Hall "like Rodney King" during the detective's arrest, Hall later told investigators. Boone was among five officers charged in the case. Ex-officer Randy Hays pleaded guilty in 2019 to kicking and beating Hall with a nightstick. Hays' girlfriend at the time, ex-officer Bailey Colletta, pleaded guilty the same year to making false statements, admitting she lied to a grand jury.

But Boone and officers Christopher Myers and Steven Korte decided to go to trial. Korte was acquitted earlier this year. Myers was acquitted of one charge regarding Hall's beating, but jurors deadlocked on a charge that he smashed Hall's phone, apparently in hopes of destroying video evidence of the assault. Jurors similarly couldn't reach a decision on Boone.

As prosecutors prepare for a second trial of Boone and Myers, they argued that the messages and logs involving Boone's now-wife should be admitted because he married her in an attempt to prevent her from being forced to testify against him. Webber found the argument persuasive.

The judge noted the suspicious timeline of the couple's nuptials. Ashley Ditto, Boone's girlfriend at the time, was served by the FBI with a subpoena on Aug. 14, 2018. The next day, she and Boone got a marriage license and married. Boone's own mother admitted while testifying before the grand jury that she was so surprised by the announcement that she didn't congratulate the newlyweds at first.

Boone's dad, a former city cop, also testified  — after failing to invoke the Fifth Amendment — that he didn't know about the marriage plans ahead of time, even though the couple lived in his house.

Webber writes in his ruling: "The Government has shown by a preponderance of the evidence (1) that Boone married Ditto to prevent her from being compelled to testify against him, (2) that Boone’s marriage to Ditto was intended to procure the Ditto’s unavailability, and (3) that the marriage did procure the unavailability of Ditto."

The night of the attack on Hall, Boone livestreamed an hour of video to Ditto, who responded, “That was SOOOOOO COOL!!!!” Boone's attorney tried to argue she could have been referring to the kettling and arrest of more than 100 people later that night — an incident that launched more than a dozen lawsuits against the city — but prosecutors pointed out that the kettle happened an hour after her message.

Webber did agree to block a few things. A series of text messages between Boone and fellow officers about prescription drug use won't be allowed during the trial. And the judge also won't let prosecutors use a message from Boone to Myers: "I don’t know if sarge is cool w taking any of that cash. I grabbed the 20s for us but I don’t know how he will Be about it??"

Those are too prejudicial, Webber concluded. The judge will allow a Youtube.com video of Christopher Myers from 2016, footage that prosecutors argue shows his habit of trying to conceal his identity and bad acts. Prosecutors will also be able to use a number of Myers' texts in which he talks about "fighting protesters" and "trying to fuck up the bad guy."

The trial is set for June 7.
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