No ‘guilty’ verdicts in trial of St. Louis officers accused of beating undercover detective

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A federal jury did not return a single guilty verdict Monday in the trial of three St. Louis Police officers accused of beating an undercover detective during a 2017 protest downtown.

St. Louis Police officer Steven Korte was found not guilty on all counts. Former officer Chris Myers was found not guilty on a civil rights charge. The jury did not reach a verdict on a charge of destruction of evidence. The jury also did not reach a verdict on the civil rights charge against former officer Dustin Boone. 

Detective Luther Hall was working undercover with a partner during the 2017 Jason Stockley protests. They were documenting potential crimes when they got split up in the chaos on the night of Sunday, Sept. 17.

Hall said he encountered uniformed police at 14th and Olive streets. Prosecutors allege Boone, Myers, and Korte attacked and beat Hall after mistaking him for a protester.

Hall was left with a pinkie-sized hole in his lip and required spinal fusion surgery in his neck.

Jurors considered a recording of Hall’s livestream feed of the beating, along with text messages from Boone and Myers, in which they indicated being part of the incident at 14th and Olive in Downtown St. Louis. There was no photo or video evidence showing which officers actually struck him.

Myers, Boone, and Korte were charged with depriving Hall of his civil rights. Myers was also charged with destroying evidence by allegedly smashing Hall’s phone. Korte was also charged with allegedly lying to the FBI. 

The vast majority of testimony against the defendants during the trial came from fellow police officers.

Defense attorneys said in spite of all of the photo and video evidence, nothing shows the three officers had a role in the beating. They said the prosecution was based on speculation, lies, and innuendo.

“I don’t think Mr. Hall wanted the wrong people convicted,” said John Rogers, Korte’s attorney.   

Former St. Louis officer Heather Taylor, who is a friend of Hall’s and former head of the Ethical Society of Police in St. Louis, watched nearly all of the testimony in the two-week trial. The mixed verdicts were returned after more than 13 hours of deliberation going back to Friday. 

Taylor was in disbelief at the verdicts from what was an all-white jury until an alternate, a Black woman, was seated last week as a substitute for another juror. 

Hall is Black. The three defendants are white. 

“This is about black and white,” Taylor said. “This is the reality even if you are a police officer!”

Myers’ attorney, Scott Rosenblum, said the text messages were taken out of context. He walked the jury through the photo and video evidence, which he said clearly showed “frame by frame” that these defendants did not beat Hall.

Two other former officers have already pleaded guilty in the case.     

Myers and Boone may be retried on the charges on which the jury did not reach verdicts but there’s been no comment yet from prosecutors in the US Attorney’s office, including the lead prosecutor, Asst. US Attorney Carrie Constantin.  

Both candidates for St. Louis mayor, Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer, decried the verdicts.

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