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Inquiry into obscene gesture by St. Louis County health official not released

ST. LOUIS (AP) — No details are being released to elected officials or the public about an internal investigation into a suburban St. Louis health official who made an obscene gesture at anti-mask protesters this summer.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Thursday through a spokesman that the administration considered the report about Dr. Faisal Khan, the county’s acting health director, a “personnel matter” and something it would not provide to the council, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The council had sought the report while meeting to consider confirming Khan as health director. The county also denied a Post-Dispatch open records request for the report.

At issue is what led Khan to give protesters the middle finger after a contentious July 27 meeting.

Khan accused several members of the audience of heckling him, making racist comments and “shoulder-bumping” him in a blistering letter that he sent to Council Chair Rita Days one day after the meeting.

But videos from the council chamber failed to corroborate Khan’s claim that he was shoulder-bumped, and officers who provided security at the meeting told a council committee that they did not witness any physical confrontations nor hear any racist slurs.

Khan also accused Councilman Tim Fitch of stoking the crowd by asking him, among other things, whether Khan was “a physician in the United States.” Khan is from Pakistan.

Members of the audience jeered during Khan’s testimony, prompting him to ask Days to quiet the crowd so he could speak.

Page told the council last month he had “reprimanded” Khan, whom he said acted “out of fear and frustration.” Page also said it was “well-established that Dr. Khan was treated poorly and he felt unsafe,” but refused to say more, saying the investigation was a personnel matter.

Khan described what happened as a “momentary loss of composure” in an Oct. 5 email to Days, which a Page official sent to the Post-Dispatch on Thursday.

But some council members are still angry. Among them is Fitch, who has called for the health director’s ouster. Fitch said the decision not to provide the report “has nothing to do with personnel matters or open records or closed records.” He said Page couldn’t release it “because it will show that Dr. Khan blatantly lied.”

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