The St. Louis prosecutor’s ongoing feud with others in the city’s legal establishment escalated Wednesday when her attorney accused a judge, the police and a special prosecutor of trying to “intimidate and humiliate” her.
The latest dust-up between Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is over a warrant to search her office’s electronic records related to a perjury investigation of William Tisaby, a former FBI agent Gardner hired last year to investigate then-Gov. Eric Greitens.
Circuit Judge Michael Mullen on Tuesday ordered Gardner to comply with the search warrant. She immediately appealed, but before a state appeals court could rule, police and an attorney for the special prosecutor appointed to oversee the Tisaby case went to her office and removed an email server.
The appeals court later Tuesday issued a preliminary order halting execution of the search warrant. The email server was returned about an hour after it was taken.
Gardner’s office said in a news release that the process caused temporary interruption of the computer system, even though police and the attorney weren’t sure what they were looking for.
Gardner’s attorney, Roy Austin Jr., said in a statement that he’s never seen a chief prosecutor treated in such a way by a court or the police.
“I believe the true motivation of yesterday’s actions by this Special Prosecutor, the police department and Circuit Judge was to intimidate and humiliate Circuit Attorney Gardner and strip her of the powers granted to her by the people of the City of St. Louis,” Austin’s statement said. “They were unsuccessful.”
Email and phone messages on Wednesday seeking comment from Mullen, Special Prosecutor Gerard Carmody and police were not immediately returned. Gardner, elected in 2016, has long had a testy relationship with the police department.
In January 2018, she took the unusual step of hiring Tisaby to investigate allegations that Greitens took an unauthorized partially nude photo of a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015, a year before he was elected. She said at the time that police refused to investigate the governor; police said they were never asked.
Greitens was indicted in February 2018 on felony invasion of privacy. The charge was dropped in May but Greitens, who was also under investigation over other concerns, resigned in June.
Gardner’s handling of the Greitens case drew strong criticism from his attorneys, who asked police to investigate whether Tisaby lied under oath as part of a deposition of the woman involved in the affair. In June, Mullen appointed Carmody as special prosecutor to oversee that investigation.
Gardner and police butted heads again last year when she developed an “exclusion list” of 28 officers who won’t be permitted as primary witnesses in criminal cases. She cited credibility concerns but didn’t say specifically what prompted the list.
In January, Gardner’s criticism of how police investigated a male officer’s alleged Russian roulette-style fatal shooting of a female colleague drew an angry rebuke from Police Chief John Hayden.
Gardner had questioned whether police tried to block drug and alcohol testing of officer Nathaniel Hendren and his partner after the shooting of Katlyn Alix, an allegation Hayden called “unwarranted” and “irresponsible.”
Hendren was charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.