St. Louis Cops Not Convicted For Allegedly Brutally Beating Black Undercover Officer During 2017 Protest
Despite text messages showing some officers admitting to beating Luther Hall, the jury could not agree on any guilty verdicts.
March 30, 2021 at 5:27 pm
An all-white jury in St. Louis could not agree on a guilty verdict in the trial of three officers accused by Justice Department prosecutors of violently attacking Luther Hall, a Black undercover officer working during a 2017 protest, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin told a jury that on Sept. 17, 2017, Hall was working undercover at a large protest against the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, KMOV4 reported.
Hall got separated from his partner and was walking through the chaotic demonstration when he encountered officers Steven Korte, Christopher Myers, Dustin Boone, Baily Colletta and Randy Hays.
According to the Justice Department and Hall's testimony, all five viciously beat him so badly that he now has a hole in his lip and had to deal with a ruptured gall bladder that led to chronic pancreatitis. He was forced to have spinal surgery because the attack damaged two of the discs in his neck.
His neck now has two discs replaced by titanium and the bones of a cadaver. Costantin even shared text messages from multiple officers showing them admitting to attacking Hall. Yet, the jury was unable to come to an agreement on any of the charges against Korte, Myers or Boone.
Both Colletta and Hays pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and a grand jury about what happened. Hays openly admitted that he personally hit Hall in the face with his baton and told prosecutors he saw Hall get kicked in the face by Korte.
Hays is now facing 10 years in prison and Colletta could spend just 30 months in prison when she is sentenced on April 8.
Korte and Myers were acquitted on a charge of deprivation of civil rights under color of law for the attack on Hall, while jurors were split on the same charge in relation to Boone. Korte was also acquitted on charges that he lied to the FBI and Myers was not convicted for destroying Hall's cellphone.
The verdicts caused outrage locally, with many criticizing the all-white jury for ignoring blatant evidence proving that all of the officers were involved in some way. Many noted that the city settled a civil lawsuit with Hall for $5 million, leading many to believe that the convictions were a foregone conclusion.
"Here we are police officers. I've been shot at, I've been called every name in the book for trying to do what's right. Just like Luther. Today a jury of mostly white males and white women made a decision ignoring evidence and we're left to settle with that," Heather Taylor, spokesperson for the Ethical Society of Police, told KMOV4.
The organization later released a statement saying that they "strongly disagree with the verdict" and that 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," the organization said in a statement to KMOV4.
House Rep. Cori Bush slammed the verdicts on Twitter.
"St. Louis police beat a Black cop who was working undercover at a protest "like Rodney King" and not one officer was found guilty.If an undercover cop can't get justice, how will the rest of us who have been maced, shot, beaten, and brutalized ever get justice?" she wrote.
St. Louis police beat a Black cop who was working undercover at a protest "like Rodney King" and not one officer was found guilty.— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 29, 2021
If an undercover cop can't get justice, how will the rest of us who have been maced, shot, beaten, and brutalized ever get justice? https://t.co/ckn8qZoAz6
City Treasurer and St. Louis mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones pledged to reform the system so officers are held accountable for their actions and Alderwoman Cara Spencer said Hall "did not get justice today."
"I am outraged. With 2 mistrial counts, and 'not guilty' verdicts on the remaining counts, those involved in the egregious beating of Hall evaded justice. These officers failed him and, as such, failed us. Their conduct has discredited their pledge and duty to serve our community," she said.
"The evidence against these officers may not have convinced a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, but the City recognized that the evidence against them was strong and settled Luther Hall’s civil suit for $5 million. Those tasked with enforcing our laws are not above the law - in fact, those of us charged to uphold public trust should be held to an even higher standard," she added.
During her closing argument, Costantin explained that in addition to Hays, Myers admitted to hitting Hall and other officers said they saw him hit Hall as well. She shared dozens of text messages from Myers showing him admitting to the attack.
"I'm f**king fighting protesters. I'm not stressed," Myers wrote in text messages. "Let's whoop some *ss. I live for this."
In another message, he said he wanted to apologize to Hall "personally cuss I feel bad." Boone also texted alarming comments to friends before the protest, writing "it's gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these s**theads once the sun goes down."
When Boone's father jokingly said he "must have put a pretty good whoopin' on him," Boone responded, "Yeah unfortunately, not one I'm proud of." Boone even texted Hall to apologize, writing, "I feel like an apology will never be enough."
But Javad Khazaeli, an attorney representing local protesters, said the trial was eye-opening because of what it revealed about how police officers speak about demonstrations.
“The defense seemed to have succeeded in arguing that the prosecution could not prove it was their people who beat officer Hall. I don’t know how the jury could have disregarded the text messages admitting that they did it," Khazaeli told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Regardless of the verdict, this trial was a success for our clients because many officers said the quiet stuff out loud — that they had planned to beat protesters and it was a mistake to beat an undercover police officer,” he added.