Jury deliberations were scheduled to resume Monday in the trial of three white police officers charged with beating a handcuffed undercover Black detective during the 2017 protests in St. Louis. All three have been charged with depriving Luther Hall of his civil rights under the color of law.
The case is testing the so-called Blue Wall of Silence — the unwritten rule of unwavering solidarity among law enforcement no matter the stakes — as officers have begun turning on one another.
Former officers Dustin Boone and Christopher Myers and current officer Steven Korte have pleaded not guilty. Myers has an additional charge of destruction of evidence. He is alleged to have destroyed Hall’s cell phone. Korte has an additional charge of lying to the FBI.
Two other former officers, Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta, previously pleaded guilty. Back in 2018, Hays pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under the law. He has admitted to beating Hall with a baton and pushing him down on the ground.
According to the Associated Press, Colletta pleaded guilty to making false statements to a grand jury about the assault. A federal prosecutor said text messages between officers ahead of the protest suggested an “eagerness for violence against protesters.”
Hays testified against his former colleagues, saying Boone kept his knee on Hall’s shoulder and Korte kicked Hall in the head while he was lying face down on the ground. Hays was questioned about day-after texts justifying the assault during which he claimed Hall had resisted arrest.
Hays insisted that upon subsequent recollection, he was wrong, and Hall did not resist arrest. But defense attorneys representing the other officers seized on inconsistencies in Hays’ previous statements and testimony. He is awaiting sentencing and faces up to 10 years.
Many other current and former officers also testified during the trial. Uzoma Onwumere, an FBI agent, was a St. Louis police officer in 2017 and witnessed Hall’s arrest and assault. Onwumere testified he watched Myers beat Hall despite being handcuffed.
Sgt. Joseph Marcantano testified he got blood on his hands when he pulled down a neck gaiter around Hall’s face. When questioned by the defense, Marcantano said he never reported what he knew to the Internal Affairs Department.
Hall posed as a demonstrator during protests after the not guilty verdict of former officer Jason Stockley, who was acquitted in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old Black man who died after a questionable traffic stop in 2011.
Hall reportedly said he was beaten “like Rodney King” and sustained injuries requiring multiple surgeries. The city recently reached a settlement with Hall for $5 million.
A charge of deprivation of civil rights under the law is a high bar to meet, with many cases ending without federal charges. As explained by the Justice Department, “Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Under the color of law is a phrase that applies to official actors at the federal, state, or local level, including law enforcement.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has declined to prosecute numerous Black people killed or beaten by police in recent years. In an example of that truth resonating with the people of St. Louis, the DOJ declined to bring charges against Darren Wilson, the police officer in nearby Ferguson who shot and killed the unarmed and 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014.
That trend of failing to hold police accountable for their actions has continued nearly unabated.
Black Lives Matter: Powerful Photos Of The World Protesting Racism
1. Washington, D.C.1 of 15
2. Harlem, New York City
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#TheTakeBack: Thousands of protesters marching from 110th & Central Park West in #Harlem. They started gathering near Frederick Douglass Circle and are walking close to 8 miles to #WashingtonSquarePark. Many are wearing face coverings and chanting #BlackLivesMattters @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/QBa2gdZiL0— Cory James (@CoryJamesTV) June 6, 2020
3. Nairobi, Kenya3 of 15
4. Leicester, England4 of 15
5. Manchester, England5 of 15
6. Atlanta6 of 15
7.7 of 15
8. Philadelphia8 of 15
9. Melbourne, Australia9 of 15
10. Belfast, Ireland10 of 15
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Now it comes to London. LOOK: Aerial footage shows thousands of people gathered in London's Parliament Square. #World be ready for protests because this difference has lasted for several centuries & the bubble has burst. #BlackLivesMattters pic.twitter.com/3DEv7fdpG5— Sai Krishna Sekar ☕️🧑🏻💻🚘 (@imSaiSekar) June 6, 2020
12. Prague12 of 15
13. France13 of 15
14. Poland14 of 15
Trial For White Cops Who Beat Black Detective ‘Like Rodney King’ Tests Blue Wall Of Silence was originally published on newsone.com