It’s been nearly four years since three St. Louis police officers were accused of brutally beating a Black undercover officer during a protest taking place over former police officer Jason Stockley being acquitted of murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar in 2017. Last Thursday, one of those officers was found guilty of his role in the incident after a jury failed to convict him earlier this year prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.
In March, The Root reported that St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officers Steven Korte and Christopher Myers were found not guilty of deprivation of rights under the color of the law, which they were charged with in connection to the beating of Detective Luther Hall, who had been posing undercover as a protester, unbeknownst to his alleged assailants. Dustin Boone was also charged in the beating, but his case ended in a mistrial. After being tried again, Boone was found guilty of the felony civil rights charge and could face up to 10 years at sentencing.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that, while jurors were able to return a guilty verdict on Boone, they were not able to reach a decision on a related charge against Myers, who was accused of tampering with evidence by destroying Hall’s cell phone in order to impede any investigation into the beating.
Myers’ lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, said that he’d be surprised if his client was tried a third time on the evidence tampering charge and that after two trials ended in only one conviction on one charge for one defendant, “I would say it’s time to quit.” While that might read as a defense attorney’s typical cavalier response to a police brutality case, Rosenblum is probably right as even convicting Boone during his second trial proved to be an uphill battle.
From the Post-Dispatch:
The jury said several hours before the partial verdict that it was unable to decide on the charge against either man. U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber told them to keep trying.
Jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse at the end of the day.
A different jury in March was unable to reach a verdict on the charges. Jurors did acquit Myers of the civil rights charge and found officer Stephen Korte not guilty of the same charge as well as a charge of lying to the FBI.
In her closing arguments Tuesday, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin said that Hall had committed no crime during the 2017 protest and that the officers had no probable cause to arrest him in the first place, let alone beat him. She also said that “Boone had a history of sending racist texts and celebrated the use of violence against protesters and others,” according to the Post-Dispatch. As we previously reported, Boone was accused of sending texts to his fellow officers the day of Stokley’s acquittal that read, “It’s gonna get IGNORANT tonight!!” and “It’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!!!!”
Costantin also argued that Myers was captured in Hall’s cellphone video standing over him shortly before using his baton to try and destroy the phone and then taking the battery out of the phone because he thought it was a memory card. Rosenblum denied the allegations, saying that it was another officer who damaged the phone and that, while part of Hall’s arrest was caught in photos and on video, Costantin was speculating on what happened off-camera. He also claimed that officers were forced to lie about what happened during the protest due to a faulty investigation into the beating (whatever that means).
As for Hall—who, at the end of the day, went undercover as a protester against police brutality and ironically ended up becoming a victim of police brutality—Costantin told the Post-Dispatch after Boone’s guilty verdict that Hall is “still absorbing it. It’s very difficult, what he’s gone through.”
She also said that Hall was experiencing both physical pain and emotional pain “because he feels he was betrayed by fellow officers.”
Constantine said that it will likely take several weeks for her office to reach a decision on whether or not Myers will be retried for tampering with evidence. She also said that Boone’s sentencing will take place in about three months.