ST. LOUIS (AP) — An undercover St. Louis police officer reported that his colleagues beat him “like Rodney King” when they mistook him for a protester following the acquittal of a white former officer in the fatal shooting of a black man, according to newly released court documents.
Det. Luther Hall, who is black, also described the attack as a “free for all” in an affidavit that the FBI used to justify searching four officers’ cellphones. Four officers were charged in November after the FBI investigated Hall’s attack and the detention of other protesters at the rally in 2017.
Hall and his partner were undercover “documenting protest activity and property destruction,” FBI Special Agent Darren Boehlje wrote in affidavits supporting the application for the warrants, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Hall, who was carrying a Nikon camera and a cellphone, became separated from his partner while fleeing officers who were firing pepper-spray pellets and bean bag rounds into the crowd, according to the affidavit. The affidavit notes that Hall didn’t hear an order to disperse prior to the police use of chemical agents and bean bag rounds.
Hall said that after a police SUV pulled up, he was slammed to the ground. Hall was told to put his hands behind his back but couldn’t because officers were standing on his arms, Boehlje wrote in the FBI affidavit. Boehlje wrote that Hall’s cellphone screen was shattered in the melee, and he watched as an officer took out the battery out of his camera and threw the camera to the ground, breaking it.
Hall later received medical treatment in an armored vehicle before telling someone at headquarters that officers “beat the (expletive) out of him like Rodney King,” referring to the black construction worker who was beaten by four Los Angeles police officers in 1991.
The affidavit states that it took three layers of stitches to close the hole in Hall’s lip, and that he suffered multiple herniated discs. A jaw injury has made it hard to eat, and Hall has lost about 15 pounds, Boehlje wrote.
The officers charged were Dustin Boone, Randy Hays, Christopher Myers and Bailey Colletta. Boone, Hays and Myers were accused of the physical assault and charged with depriving Hall of his constitutional rights and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Myers is also accused of destroying Hall’s cellphone, while Colletta is charged for allegedly lying to the federal grand jury investigating the attack.
Hays’ lawyer, Brian Millikan, declined to comment. Lawyers for the officers did not respond to requests for comment Monday.