St. Louis, MO – A jury returned no convictions for three St. Louis police officers accused of assaulting a fellow detective who was working undercover during a protest in 2017.
According to the original indictment, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) Detective Luther Hall, a 22-year veteran-of-the-force, was viciously kicked and beaten with a baton, causing injuries to his lip and jaw, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
He also suffered multiple herniated discs as a result of the attack, and his jaw injuries made it difficult for him to eat.
Det. Hall remains employed by the SLMPD, but it is unclear whether he has returned to full duty since the attack, KSDK reported.
A jury acquitted SLMPD Officer Steven Korte on Monday of charges of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and deprivation of rights under color of law, the Associated Press reported.
Former SLMPD Officer Christopher Myers was also acquitted on a count of deprivation of rights under color of law, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on a destruction of evidence charge stemming from allegations he smashed Det. Hall’s phone.
The jury was also unable to reach a verdict on the deprivation of rights under color of law and aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime charges filed against former SLMPD Officer Dustin Boone, resulting in a mistrial, the Associated Press reported.
Since he was acquitted of all charges, the judge told Officer Korte at the conclusion of the proceedings that he was free to go, KSDK reported.
Myers and Boone were both released on bond.
Det. Hall was in the courtroom on Monday and refused to speak with reporters as he left the courthouse, KSDK reported.
His supporters said the veteran detective was “devastated” by the outcome of the case.
Det. Hall testified during the trial that the attack was a “free-for-all,” according to the Associated Press.
The Ethical Society of Police, a SLMPD organization representing mostly black officers, said in a statement that it “strongly” disagreed with the jury’s decision, KSDK reported.
“There was clear evidence to convict former St. Louis City Police Officers Christopher Myers, Dustin Boone, and Steven Korte,” the group alleged. “The injuries Detective Luther Hall sustained were consistent with being beaten by multiple subjects.”
“Police officers continue to escape the consequences of their actions,” the police group alleged. “The criminal justice system continues to show African-American victims of police violence we do not receive the same level of justice when white police officers are accused of excessive force toward African Americans.”
Critics also questioned why the jury who decided the case had only one black member, the Associated Press reported.
Officer Korte’s attorney, John Rogers, said it is “too soon to tell” whether or not he will return to full duty at the SLMPD, KSDK reported.
“We’re ecstatic that he can return to the St. Louis city police department if he so chooses, and he can remain a person with a reputation intact,” Rogers said.
Myers’ attorney said he and his client are “thrilled” about the outcome, according to KSDK.
“We’ve never believed for a second that Mr. Myers was involved in the deprivation of the civil rights of Mr. Hall or anyone else,” said Scott Rosenblum, the attorney representing Myers.
The SLMPD will now proceed with its internal investigation, St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden confirmed on Tuesday morning, according to KSDK.
“Officer accountability is, and has been, a pillar of my administration,” Chief Hayden said in a statement. “At the behest of the federal authorities and the United States Attorney’s Office, our Department has delayed any internal investigation into the assault of Officer Hall so as not to compromise the criminal investigation.”
“Our Department has fully cooperated with the federal investigation and has been assured that the FBI will fully cooperate with our internal investigation,” he wrote. “It is our hope to now obtain all relevant evidence from the FBI to conduct a complete and thorough internal investigation.”
According to prosecutors, SLMPD Officers Boone, Randy Hayes, 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, 35, Hayes, 31, and Myers, 27, 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, 26, 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 Myers had also been accused of destroying Det. Hall’s phone in order to obstruct the investigation.
Officer Colletta, who was in a romantic relationship with Officer Hayes 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.
Officer Korte was federally indicted in 2019 for his alleged role in the attack, KSDK reported.
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.
The City of St. Louis agreed to a $5 million settlement with Det. Hall in February.
Det. Hall’s civil lawsuits against the officers remains ongoing, KSDK reported.