St. Louis, MO – One of two former St. Louis police officers accused of beating a fellow detective who was working undercover during a protest in 2017 was convicted by a jury during his second trial on Thursday.
Another jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charges against former St. Louis Metro Police Department (SLMPD) Officer Christopher Myers and former SLMPD Officer Dustin Boone in March, resulting in the second trial.
The jury alerted the court several hours prior to the partial verdict on Thursday that it was unable to reach a decision on the charges against Myers, 30, and Boone, 38, but U.S. District Court Judge E. Richard Webber ordered them to try again, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The jury ultimately found Boone guilty of deprivation of rights under color of law for aiding and abetting fellow officers accused of beating SLMPD Detective Luther Hall during a protest in 2017.
Det. Hall, a 22-year veteran of the SLMPD, was left with permanent injuries as a result of the assault, to include damaged discs in his neck, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
He settled a $5 million civil lawsuit against the department in February.
Boone’s attorney, Patrick Kilgore, said his client did not take part in the attack on Det. Hall and that he was nowhere near him when it occurred.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin said the now-former officer targeted the undercover detective because he mistook him for a protester, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Costantin also told the jury about various texts and messages supporting violence against demonstrators Boone had sent to people ahead of the assault.
Kilgore did not explain the content of the texts, but said they were taken out of context.
Boone faces up to 10 years in prison for the felony civil rights offense, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Costantin said she anticipates his sentencing hearing will take place in approximately three months.
“For those of us in law enforcement, it’s gratifying that we can take a bad cop off the streets,” she said.
U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming issued a press release after the verdict saying he hopes Boone’s conviction will prevent other law enforcement officers from abusing citizens, the Riverfront Times reported.
“As a police officer for the City of St. Louis, Dustin Boone violated the sacred trust placed in him to serve and protect members of the community,” Fleming said. “Our hope is this conviction serves as a deterrent to those who consider abusing their authority and a step toward restoring the community’s faith in the justice system and law enforcement.”
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of destruction of evidence against Myers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Myers has been accused of trying to impede the assault investigation by allegedly smashing Det. Hall’s cellphone with a collapsible baton while the undercover detective was recording him, according to prosecutors.
He also allegedly swiped the battery from Det. Hall’s phone, mistakenly believing it was a memory card, Costantin said.
Attorney Scott Rosenblum, the lawyer representing Myers, denied allegations that his client destroyed the phone and told the court former SLMPD Officer Randy Hays was the one who smashed it, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Hays, who previously pleaded guilty to felony deprivation of rights under color of law, allegedly lied about what occurred with the cell phone in order to back Costantin’s version of events, Rosenblum claimed.
Costantin said her office will decide in the next several weeks whether or not Myers will face a third trial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“I’d be surprised if they’re going to require Chris to go through yet a third trial,” Rosenblum told reporters. “I would say it’s time to quit.”
According to prosecutors, SLMPD Officers Boone, Hays, Myers, and Bailey Colletta were among 200 members of the St. Louis police force who were assigned to the “Civil Disobedience Team” ahead of the 2017 protest, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
On Sep. 17, 2017, they were working crowd control following the trial of former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, who was acquitted for the on-duty shooting death of drug dealer Anthony Lamar Smith.
The verdict led to nights of rioting.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these [expletive] once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!!!” Officer Boone wrote in a text message, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said that Officers Boone, Hays, and Myers mistakenly believed undercover Det. Hall was a protester, so they assaulted him “while he was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.”
During her change of plea hearing on Sept. 6, 2019, Colletta admitted that there was “very little protest activity” when they encountered undercover Det. Hall near the intersection of Olive Street and 14th Street, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
She said that Det. Hall was complying with her orders to get onto his knees when the other three officers tackled him to the ground.
Colletta admitted that the detective they believed was a protester was not committing any crime and that he did not do anything to justify the use of force doled out by the officers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
After they learned that the person they attacked and arrested was an undercover detective, the three officers attempted to cover up the incident by claiming Det. Hall was non-compliant and resisted arrest, prosecutors said.
The three officers then allegedly attempted to contact Det. Hall in an effort to convince him not to pursue legal or disciplinary action against them.
Officer Colletta, who was in a romantic relationship with Officer Hays at the time of the assault, initially told investigators that she did not know Det. Hall and that she never saw him on the night of his arrest, according to the indictment.
She also lied to investigators by claiming that the undercover detective was “brought to the ground very gently,” and presented the grand jury with “misleading and inconsistent explanations” regarding the supposed “textbook arrest,” the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
Officer Colletta had been with the department for just 18 months at the time of the indictment.
A jury acquitted SLMPD Officer Steven Korte on March 29 of charges of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and deprivation of rights under color of law, according to the Associated Press.
Officer Korte had been charged for allegedly lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by claiming he had not participated in Det. Hall’s arrest, as well as for civil rights violations.
Hays previously pleaded guilty to felony deprivation of rights under color of law, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Colletta pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and to a federal grand jury about the attack.