A coalition of religious leaders and civil rights organizations on Monday demanded the immediate firing of suburban St. Louis detective who is shown on a video striking a man with a police SUV and then apparently hitting him at least twice while handcuffing him.
The detective from Florissant was suspended after Florissant Police Chief Tim Fagan saw a resident’s doorbell camera video of the arrest this weekend. Fagan said he was “deeply concerned” about the video and has asked St. Louis County law enforcement and the FBI to investigate.
The 20-year-old man was treated for an ankle injury and was released. He and another man who was with him face drug and resisting arrest charges. Fagan said no weapons were found on either man or in their car.
The Rev. Darryl Gray, the political advisor for the St. Louis Clergy Coalition, said during a news conference Monday that police must act quickly to avoid unrest in Florissant. He said despite national protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and complaints about police response, “still police officers are not hearing, they’re not listening, they’re not adhering to the voices of the people.”
On Sunday night, protesters blocked a road in front of the heavily-barricaded Florissant police department, holding a “die-in” on the street, in which the participants lay face down with their hands behind their backs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. No violence was reported.
Bishop Elijah Hankerson III, president of the metropolitan St. Louis Clergy Coalition, said the man’s family wants the detective to be fired and charged. The man’s mother wants people to know her son is not a “thug” and hasn’t been in previous trouble with the law, he said.
Two other officers who were with the detective but are not seen on the video participating in the arrest are on leave pending the investigation, Fagan said.
In a news conference late Saturday, Fagan vowed to be transparent so the public could be assured that the police department is doing what it can to protect them.
“I’m upset,” Fagan said about the video. “Obviously there’s such tension right now in the community certainly as it relates to law enforcement. Anytime you see a member of your department involved in a resisting (arrest) you never look good … to see a citizen struck by a police vehicle is concerning.”
The detective is a 9-year veteran of the force and had no previous incidents that required an outside investigation, Fagan said.
The arrest occurred about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dellwood. The video shows the police SUV hitting a man who was running past the home. The officer jumps on top of the man, who is screaming, and hits him before handcuffing him.
Fagan said the officer, whose name has not been released, was on duty because of civil unrest in the area during protests over Floyd’s death. The arrest occurred a day after four St. Louis police officers were shot and a retired St. Louis police captain was fatally shot during a violent night in the city.
The officers were pursuing the vehicle the two men were in because it had been nearby the evening of June 1 when a shot was fired across from the Florissant police station, Fagan said.
Fagan said he was aware that an arrest that involving injuries was made Tuesday night but he did not see the video until Saturday. He said an internal investigation will determine what caused that delay.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said a special prosecutor has been appointed in the case because a relative of one of his staffers was at the scene. St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar’s office is investigating with the help of St. Louis County police and the FBI.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen issued a statement saying his office, the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and the FBI are aware of the case and will review the evidence to determine what federal response is warranted.