FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) — 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.
St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar, who’s office is investigating with the help of St. Louis County police and the FBI, said Monday he found the video “shocking” but noted it showed only part of the encounter.
“What I saw is not standard police work, it is not acceptable police work,” Lohmar said. “And it’s shocking. I don’t know what happened before the video started, I don’t know what happened immediately after. Those are things I need to find out before we can really move forward.”
The 20-year-old man was treated for an ankle injury and was released. He and two other men in the car have been charged with Florissant municipal offenses, Lohmar said. No weapons were found on the men or in their car, he said.
Investigators have not been able to reach the three men who were in the car to hear their version of events, Lohmar said.
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.
“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 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 three men were in because it had been seen near an earlier shots-fired incident, Lohmar 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. Lohmar said the officers violated protocol by not immediately reporting details of the arrest to Fagan.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen said in a statement that his office, the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and the FBI will review the case to determine if a federal response is warranted.
This story has been corrected to show that that three men were in the suspect’s car.