Four St. Louis officers were indicted on federal charges Thursday for brutally beating an undercover officer they mistook for a protester and then trying to cover it up.
Prosecutors accused Officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Myers of slamming a 22-year police veteran to the ground, kicking and beating him with a baton amid protests sparked by the acquittal of former officer Jason Stockley in September 2017. Stockley was facing a murder charge in the fatal shooting of Black man Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.
According to the indictment, the three officers attacked one of their own who was mixed in with the crowd and posing as a protester at the time. The officers targeted the plainclothes cop and assaulted him “while he was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.” Meanwhile a fourth officer, Bailey Colletta, is accused of lying to a federal grand jury investigating the incident, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The indictment also pointed to text messages exchanged between several of the officers where they “expressed disdain” for protesters and were giddy with “excitement about using unjustified force against them and going undetected while doing so.”
The officers carried out their plans and launched an attack that left the undercover officer, identified as L.H., with an inflamed jaw, a 2-centimeter hole that went through his face and a severe tailbone injury, sources familiar with the incident said. The officer underwent surgery in October to repair two herniated disks in his neck and back and is now forced to wear a neck brace.
After realizing the person they attacked was an undercover officer, the three male cops lied about the arrest and claimed the man had resisted and was noncompliant. The indictment states they even tried reaching out to the officer to dissuade him from pursuing legal action.
Transcripts included in the indictment also revealed damning texts sent two days before the Sept. 17 demonstration.
“[L]et’s whoop some ass,” Myers texted an unnamed officer about the protest detail.
The same day, Boone also texted someone, “[I]t’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these shitheads once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!!” He went on to lament that other officers were getting hurt in the protests but said “it’s still a blast beating people who deserve it. And I’m not one of the people hurt, so I’m still enjoying each night.”
In one exchange, Hays advised another officer about “going rogue” and told him to “make sure you have a white dude as a witness.”
The Riverfront Times reports that all four officers were detailed to the department’s Civil Disobedience team at the time of the incident. Boone, Hays and Myers face separate charges for conspiring to mislead investigators while Myers is named in a felony count for intentionally destroying L.H.’s cellphone after the attack.
In a statement, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden decried the officer’s actions, saying he was “deeply disappointed” by their behavior.
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