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Interim chief defends St. Louis officers actions during protests

ST. LOUIS  – St. Louis’ interim police chief is defending the way officers have responded to protests during the past two weeks.

Lawrence O’Toole also says he has “no problem” if the U.S. Attorney’s office wants to investigate.

O’Toole spoke Wednesday on Charlie Brennan’s program on KMOX Radio . He says 30 officers have been injured while responding to protests over the Sept. 15 aquittal of white former officer Jason Stockley in the death of a black suspect, Anthony Lamar Smith.

Police were criticized for using a process called “kettling” to arrest around 120 people during a downtown protest on Sept. 17, prompting some to call for a federal investigation.

Some of those arrested, including bystanders and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist, said they had nowhere to go when police ordered the crowd to disperse. O’Toole says there was room to leave.