Former St. Louis officer charged after pepper-spraying demonstrators during Stockley protests
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A former police officer has been charged after pepper-spraying protesters outside Busch Stadium in 2017. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that William Olsten is being charged with three felony counts of third-degree assault.
The protest where the incident happened was held on Sept. 29, 2017. It was in response to the acquittal of former Officer Jason Stockley on a murder charge.
Olsten was a St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer at the time of the incident. Videos from people live-streaming the protest used as evidence show tempers flaring after a protester was tased. Other demonstrators started yelling and cursing at Olsten. Fellow officers held him back but he pepper-sprayed the protesters without warning.
Video shows Olsten pepper-spraying one man in the face. He hit many other protesters during a sweep of the crowd with the spray can.
The pepper-spray victims each suffered from temporary blindness. This is why Olsten is charged with third-degree assault. The victims did not suffer from serious physical injuries because the effects were temporary.
The probable cause statement says that there was no clear warning to disperse given before the pepper-spray was shot into the crowd.
A report from St. Louis Public Radio from that evening says that at least two people were arrested that evening after a three-hour demonstration. A banner with “Stop Killing Us” was unfurled inside Busch Stadium stadium during a game Cardinals game against the Brewers.
Olsten is also one of two police officers charged in connection to a shooting outside a south St. Louis bar in spring 2018.