During Black Lives Matter protests on Sept. 17, 2017, Detective Hall was working undercover when he was attacked by St. Louis police officers, later identified through photography and witness accounts, as Bailey Colletta, Randy Hays, Christopher Myers, and Dustin Boone. Steven Korte was later identified by former officer Hays during an investigation as being someone who kicked Hall in the back of the head. The officers were indicted in 2018 on charges of deprivation of Detective Hall’s rights and obstruction.
Former officers Bailey Colletta and Randy Hays already plead guilty to lying to investigators and deprivation of Hall’s civil rights, respectively, agreeing to give testimony against the other officers in the hopes of receiving more lenient sentences. The defense teams for the three officers used the argument that the two guilty former officers’ testimony, specifically Hays’ testimony, were unreliable because they were bad cops. That along with the argument that these cops couldn’t have been attempting to obstruct justice because none of them thought they were doing anything wrong by beating up protesters is the perfect encapsulation of the double standard at work in our justice system for law enforcement and everyone else.
This of course is magnified when “everyone else” is a Black citizen, or in this case, a 22-year veteran police officer who happens to be Black. There are citizens in our country, frequently Black and brown, convicted off the testimony of guilty-pleading, equally unreliable witnesses. It’s the foundation of most prosecution strategies. The defense team was able to successfully manipulate the jury to exclude people of color, over the objections of prosecutors, and a judge who felt compelled to put at least one of the Black alternate jurors back in the pool—meaning that the jury remained all white, with two Black alternates. St. Louis, Missouri, is more than 45% Black.
The Ethical Society of Police that represents police officers of color in the St. Louis area released this statement on the verdict:
The Ethical Society of Police respects the decision of the jury, but we strongly disagree with the verdict,” it said in a statement. “There was clear evidence to convict former St. Louis City Police Officers Christopher Myers, Dustin Boone, and Steven Korte. The injuries Detective Luther Hall sustained were consistent with being beaten by multiple subjects.”
Police officers continue to escape the consequences of their actions. The criminal justice system continues to show African-American victims of police violence we do not receive the same level of justice when white police officers are accused of excessive force toward African Americans.
Luther Hall left the courtroom without talking to reporters but friends of his told St. Louis’s 5 On Your Side that Hall was “devastated.” St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden Jr. gave a statement saying that now that this trial was concluded, his department would move forward with an internal investigation into the events of Sept. 2017.
“Officer accountability is, and has been, a pillar of my administration. At the behest of the federal authorities and the United States Attorney’s Office, our Department has delayed any internal investigation into the assault of Officer Hall so as not to compromise the criminal investigation. Our Department has fully cooperated with the federal investigation and has been assured that the FBI will fully cooperate with our internal investigation.
“It is our hope to now obtain all relevant evidence from the FBI to conduct a complete and thorough internal investigation.”
In Sept. 2019, Detective Hall filed a civil lawsuit against the officers, as well as St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Officer Joseph Marcantano—Marcantano admitted to not telling internal affairs what he knew of the event. Marcantano has since been promoted to sergeant in the St. Louis police force. Last week, Hall’s civil suit was settled with the St. Louis Police Department, Mayor Krewson and Sgt. Marcantano for $5 million. His case is still active against the other officers.