St. Louis, MO – Four St. Louis police officers were suspended without pay on Thursday, after they were federally charged for allegedly assaulting an undercover officer during a 2017 protest and attempting to cover it up.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hayes, Christopher Myers, and Bailey Colletta were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on Thursday, St. Louis Department of Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said in a press release.
“The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is filled with dedicated and professional public servants who do exceptional work, and I am proud of them,” Director Edwards said. “In a few instances, some officers have fallen short of the professionalism required to work in our Police Department.”
“I believe officers Boone, Colletta, Hayes, and Myers are outliers and that the charges levied against them are isolated and not indicative of our Police Department,” the director continued.
“I take accountability and transparency very seriously. When a public safety employee acts outside the scope of their authority, it is imperative that they be held accountable to the fullest extent under the law," he said.
According to prosecutors, the indicted officers were among 200 members of the St. Louis police force who were assigned to the “Civil Disobedience Team,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
On Sep. 17, 2017, they were working crowd control following the trial of former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, who was acquitted for the on-duty shooting death of drug dealer Anthony Lamar Smith.
The verdict led to nights of rioting.
“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!!!!” Officer Boone wrote in a text message, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said that Officers Boone, 35, Hayes, 31, and Myers, 27, mistakenly believed undercover St. Louis Police Officer Luther Hall was a protester, so they assaulted him "while he was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.”
Details regarding the extent of Officer Hall’s injuries were not released.
After they learned that the person they attacked and arrested was an undercover officer, the three officers attempted to cover up the incident by claiming Officer Hall, a 22-year veteran of the force, was non-compliant and resisted arrest, prosecutors said.
The three officers then attempted to contact Officer Hall in an effort to convince him not to pursue legal or disciplinary action against them.
Officer Myers has also been accused of destroying Officer Hall’s phone in order to obstruct the investigation.
Officer Colletta, 25, who was in a romantic relationship with Officer Hayes at the time of the assault, initially told investigators that she did not know Officer Hall and that she never saw him on the night of his arrest, according to the indictment.
She also allegedly lied to investigators by claiming Officer Hall was “brought to the ground very gently,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden said he asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for assistance after he learned about the alleged attack on Officer Hall.
“Law enforcement and the public have a common interest in identifying and holding accountable those who dishonor the badge,” the FBI said in a statement to KMOV.
"I am deeply disappointed in the alleged actions of these individual officers,” Chief Hayden said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“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," he said.
According to the chief, Officer Hayden has been with the department for eight years.
Officer Myers was hired three years ago, Officer Boone has served for two years, and Officer Colletta joined the agency just 18 months ago.
They each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said that she was “forced to dismiss 91 cases involving these four officers” as a result of the allegations against them, KPLR reported.
“We will continue to review additional cases where these officers’ testimony or involvement is fundamental,” Gardner said. “The alleged conduct of these officers should not be used to tarnish the service of the hardworking men and women who honorably serve the residents of the City of St. Louis on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.”