ST. LOUIS (CN) — Four St. Louis police officers were suspended without pay after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from the arrest and assault of a protester — who happened to be an undercover officer.
Charged with felony deprivation of constitutional rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice are Dustin Boone, 35; Bailey Colletta, 25; Randy Hays, 31; and Christopher Myers, 27.
According to the indictment, the victim, L.H., a 22-year veteran of the St. Louis City Police Department, was working undercover during protests that were sparked by a not-guilty verdict in the Jason Stockley case on Sept. 15, 2017.
Stockley, a former city police officer, was charged with murder for gunning down a suspect after a high-speed police chase.
Boone, Hays and Myers allegedly threw L.H. to the ground and kicked and hit him with a riot baton while he was on the ground, though he complied with their orders. Myers allegedly destroyed L.H.’s cell phone to destroy evidence.
They also are accused of attempting to coerce witnesses to taint their recollection of the assault. And Colletta is accused of lying about the incident to a federal grand jury.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden said in a statement: “I am deeply disappointed in the alleged actions of these individual officers. However, it is in no way reflective of the hard work and dedication exhibited by the men and women of our department who serve the community on a daily basis with integrity and honor.
“Our officers must be held to the highest standard of professionalism, and I expect them to abide by the very same laws they are sworn to uphold.”
Mayor Lyda Krewson also issued a statement: “We expect professionalism from every city employee. No exceptions. The charges brought against these officers today do not reflect the standards we hold ourselves to as public servants.”
Count one of the indictment charges Boone, Hays and Myers with willfully violating L.H.’s constitutional rights; count two charges Boone, Hays, and Myers with conspiracy to obstruct justice for conspiring and agreeing to engage in misleading conduct toward witnesses; count three charges Myers with destruction of evidence; and count four charges Colletta with corruptly attempting to obstruct, influence, and impede federal grand jury proceedings.
Count one carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Counts two, three and four each carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison. Each of the four counts carries a maximum fine of $250,000.