St. Louis, MO – A former St. Louis police officer accused of beating a fellow detective who was working undercover during a protest in 2017 turned down a plea deal and will proceed to trial in May.
Former St. Louis Metro Police Department (SLMPD) Officer Christopher Myers was expected to plead guilty in U.S. District Court on Mar. 1 to a misdemeanor charge for allegedly damaging SLMPD Detective Luther Hall’s phone the night of the assault, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Myers would not have faced any jail time or fines, according to KSDK.
His attorney announced late last week that Myers no longer wanted to plead guilty after U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber recused himself from the case without explanation on Feb. 23, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge John Ross set a new trial date of May 2.
Myers has gone to trial in the case twice before, and both ended with hung juries, KSDK reported.
His attorney, Scott Rosenblum, argued during both trials that his client threw Det. Hall’s phone after seeing blood on it.
Rosenblum said Myers and his fellow officers did not believe they had violated any policies when they arrested the undercover detective, and argued his client therefore had no reason to destroy the phone to impede an investigation he didn’t even know would be on the horizon, KTRK reported.
Myers and four other officers were charged in the case, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
He and SLMPD Officer Steven Korte were acquitted of a felony civil rights charge in May of last year, and Officer Korte was also acquitted of allegation he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Former SLMPD Officer Dustin Boone was convicted in June of 2021 of aiding and abetting the deprivation of rights under color of law, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Boone faced up to 10 years in prison, but was sentenced to just one year and one day.
Former SLMPD Officer Randy Hays pleaded guilty to felony deprivation of rights under color of law and was sentenced to four years and four months in prison, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Former SLMPD Officer Bailey Colletta pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and to a federal grand jury about the attack and was sentenced to three years of probation.
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 of 2021.
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.
Colletta had been with the department for just 18 months at the time of the indictment.