Beating a Black detective isn’t egregious enough to find white officers guilty of police brutality, according to one jury. In the trial of three St. Louis officers who beat an undercover colleague, jury deliberations ended Monday with one officer found not guilty of all charges.
Steven Korte, who remains employed by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, was acquitted of all charges. The jury found former officer Christopher Myers not guilty of the most serious charge of deprivation of rights.
Jurors could not reach a unanimous decision in charge of property destruction against Myers and resulting in a mistrial. Both charges against former officer Dustin Boone also ended in a mistrial. Local news reported Boone and Myers remain free on bond.
The three officers were charged under federal civil rights law for deprivation of rights under the color of law stemming from Luther Hall‘s injuries. Current and former officers gave testimony describing Hall’s beating, a Black detective who was undercover during protests in 2017. One officer described getting blood on his hands when he touched a neck gaiter covering Hall’s face.
From the testimony, officers mistook Hall for a protestor and acted accordingly. Text messages read during the trial suggested the officers were looking to beat up protestors.
A 2020 Reuters report mentioned federal officials’ desire to pursue a broader pattern and practice investigation into the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The report cited career attorneys as saying the investigation did not move forward out of fear that Trump appointees would not take action and due to monitoring of nearby Ferguson.
According to Reuters, “officials considered possible evidence of systematic problems in the department, including statements signaling potential bias and other misconduct; the shifting of a police camera mounted on a street pole away from the scene, seconds before officers advanced on protesters; and a federal judge’s finding that police illegally used chemical agents against nonviolent protesters.”
The St. Louis based Ethical Society of Police (ESOP) issued a statement Monday evening disagreeing with the verdict citing the clear evidence, including the severity of injuries sustained by Luther Hall. ESOP tied the brutality experienced by Hall to broader issues of police violence faced by Black people.
“Police officers continue to escape the consequences of their actions,” read the statement. “The criminal justice system continues to show African-American victims of police violence we do not receive the same level of justice.”
Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.
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