A Black police officer has been awarded $5 million in a settlement agreement with the city of St. Louis after white police officers assaulted him while he was working undercover at a protest.
According to local TV news station KSDK, the settlement was signed by Mayor Lyda Krewson, Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole and Sgt. Joseph Marcanto. The agreement requires the city pay officer Luther Hall in under 50 days.
In 2017, Hall went undercover to investigate protests that followed the acquittal of a police officer who had been charged in the 2011 killing of a Black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, Newsweek reports. As a result of the attack, Hall sustained a tailbone injury, herniated disks in his neck and injuries to his face that made it nearly impossible to eat.
KSDK reports that Hall said in his civil lawsuit that Mayor Krewson made a comment about how he had mangled his “cute face,” during a trip on an elevator following the attack and later denied being knowledgeable about the horrific beating.
Prosecutors alleged four St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) officers; Bailey Colletta, Christopher Myers, Dustin Boone, and Randy Hays, threw Hall to the ground and beat him with batons. The group was federally indicted for their alleged involvement in the fall of 2018, and Colletta was also indicted for lying to a grand jury.
In a guilty plea, Colletta said she and her peers thought Hall was a demonstrator at the protest.
“The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is filled with dedicated and professional public servants who do exceptional work, and I am proud of them. In a few instances, some officers have fallen short of the professionalism required to work in our Police Department,” Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said. “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.”
Police chief John Hayden Jr. said that he was disappointed in the officers’ behavior and offered his commitment to ensuring that people of the city are safe and protected.
“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, as they have an ethical obligation to the citizens of this community,” he said.
In 2019, a fifth officer named Steve Korte was indicted for civil rights infractions and for lying to the FBI by denying his involvement in Hall’s detainment and assault. His additional charge of providing false statements to the FBI could incur a penalty of five years in prison or a $250,000 fine. KSDK reports that the department confirmed Korte has been placed on administrative leave without pay.
In the aftermath of the incident, a number of lawsuits are pending against the city by people who say officers used excessive force against them, and some complained about police employing a tactic known as “kettling,” to round up large groups of protestors to arrest them.
As of Tuesday, Hall is employed by the SLMPD, but the law enforcement agency has yet to reveal if he has returned to active duty, KSDK reports.