DOWNTOWN – An African-American St. Louis police detective who says he was beaten by white officers while he was undercover has sued the city. Luther Hall claims the officers who allegedly beat him had planned to attack protesters, and he specifically says Mayor Lyda Krewson lied about her knowledge of the attack on him.
Hall’s case dates back to September 2017, during protests that took place after Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer who is white, was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Protests broke out, and Hall was working undercover to help police monitor them.
Hall claims he was beaten by a group of white officers who thought he was a protester during one of the demonstrations.
The federal lawsuit, filed Monday, says Hall was ordered by officers to show his hands and get on the ground.
The suit says: “As Hall was complying with the order, with his hands out in front of him still holding his cell phone in one hand and his camera in the other hand, showing the officers that he was no threat to them, he was picked up and slammed face first into the ground. He was picked up a second time and thrown face first into the ground. Hall felt blood gushing out of his nose and lip. To cover-up their own misconduct and as part of the conspiracy, unknown officers told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that two uniformed officers ordered Hall to show his hands, and when he refused to do so, they knocked him down, hit him at least three times, and zip tied his hands behind his back. Hall was surrounded by police officers who beat him with their batons and fists and kicked him with their boots. He could feel blows landing all over his body to include his neck and the side of his head.”
The suit also claims that two of the white officers named had specific plans to attack protesters.
“Texts messages obtained by the FBI from (Officer Dustin) Boone and (Officer Christopher) Myers’ cell phones show that they intended to beat citizens involved in the Stockley demonstrations. By way of example, but not exhaustive of these texts, Defendant Myers texted, ‘I know right, Yes I guess so, let’s whoop some ass.’
“Defendant Boone texted messages that include but are not necessarily limited to the following: ‘The more the merrier!!! It’s gonna get IGNORANT tonight!! But 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!!!!
‘I’m on (Sgt **’s) arrest team! Me and a BIG OL black dude r the guys that are hands on! No stick or shield….. just (expletive) people up when they don’t act right! …’
‘That’s my dude today! Haha he’s basically a thug that’s on our side!!! It’s he and I that just grab (expletive) and toss em around.’
‘We really need these (expletive) to start acting up so we can have some fun.’
‘Yeah. A lot of cops gettin hurt, but it’s still a blast beating people that deserve it. And I’m not one of the people hurt, so I’m still enjoying each night….’”
The lawsuit also alleges the officers planned to treat Caucasian and African-American demonstrators differently.
“A text message sent from Hays to Boone supports that the Defendants treated Caucasian protesters differently than African American protesters. It stated: ‘Remember we are in south city. They support us but also cameras. So make sure you have an old white dude as a witness.'”
As for Krewson’s involvement in the suit, it points out that she held a news conference the day after the unrest, expressing her full support for the actions of police. It says she made the statements even though she had firsthand knowledge of what happened to Hall. The suit alleges it was Krewson’s driver who had taken Hall to the hospital for medical treatment, and that when he returned to police headquarters, the mayor herself rode an elevator with Hall, and commented on his injuries.
“Hall rode up the elevator with Defendant Krewson who knew Hall was working in an undercover capacity because of surveillance footage he had provided on Saturday and a briefing he had given on Sunday morning,” the suit claims. “While Hall was riding up the elevator with Defendant Krewson, she said to him, ‘Oh they messed up your cute face.'”
Four days after that, Krewson was allegedly asked directly about an undercover officer’s being injured, and the suit says she denied any knowledge of the incident.
The civil suit comes in the wake of federal criminal charges against officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Meyers in connection with the incident. Another officer, Bailey Colletta, has already pleaded guilty to charges that she lied to investigators in an effort to cover up what happened. She has not yet been sentenced.
The suit also claims there were no police reports filed in connection with the attack, an effort, it implies, to cover up what happened.
MetroSTL.com contacted the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department regarding the suit. Spokesman Jack Wang said that the department “does not provide statements on pending litigation.”
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit can be read here: Luther Hall vs City of St. Louis federal lawsuit