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Police chief posts YouTube video in response to 2 officers punching suspects

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 4 at 10:07 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- News 4 is learning more about two St. Louis Metropolitan police officers accused of being on the wrong side of the law.

In two separate cases, both officers are charged with throwing a punch at teenage prisoners while they were handcuffed, but details about what led up to those incidents are hard to come by.

I cover a lot of crime cases, and it is standard procedure that once charges are filed, the circuit attorney's office does not allow police to comment on a case.  However, this time, the police chief knew charges were coming Wednesday afternoon, but instead of allowing reporters to ask questions about the case, he posted a video statement to YouTube.

Court documents say there is video and audio proof that police officers David Wilson and Rory Bruce punched handcuffed teenagers.  The cases sound nearly identical but happened in two separate arrests.  Police Officers Association Jeff Roorda says both were deadly encounters.

"In one case the bad guy tried to wrestle a gun away from a cop and got shot in the process," Roorda said of the January 8, 2012 incident on Tower Grove Avenue.  Of the February 20, 2012 incident on East Grand Avenue, Roorda said, "The other suspect had two handguns and an assault rifle in his car and attempted to use them.  Now I'm not saying any of that justifies bad behavior on the part of police officers, but we don't know that there's bad behavior here."

Roorda claims the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has gone against its union contract by refusing to show the officers a copy of the video.

"The officers maintain all along that their actions were in full compliance with the law and department policies," Roorda said.

But the ACLU isn't buying it.  Former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Redditt Hudson said, "We have officers who abuse their authority. It's that simple."

Hudson now works for the ACLU.  He says he has been shot at before as a police officer and that he understands human nature, that someone might want to retaliate.

"We're not in the business of retribution," Hudson said.  "We have judges, we have juries, we're professionally trained, and we've accepted all of the risks inherent to the job when we sign on to the department."

David Wilson still has his job.  He's on paid, administrative duty while the department's internal affairs decides how to punish him.  Rory Bruce was fired  since he was on probation as a new officer.  Chief Dan Isom addressed the charges on YouTube.

"As Chief of Police, I want to assure the St. Louis community that our Department remains committed to our core values of Service, Integrity, Leadership and Fair Treatment to All. It is the Department's responsibility to enforce the law even when our own officers are the ones who have broken the law," Chief Isom said.  "We must work to protect the rights of all citizens and we will continue to work to root out those officers who seek to tarnish the reputation of our police department."

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce was out of town when the charges were formally filed  but sent a statement, in part, reading, "The circuit attorney's office is committed to holding those who commit crimes accountable for their criminal conduct, regardless of who they are or what they do.... While it's always difficult to charge law enforcement officials with a crime, I want to express my support to the hundreds of police officers who serve and protect the citizens of this community honorably and with integrity every single day."

Neither Wilson nor Bruce has been arrested yet, and police did not respond to my question whether police will seek them out or let them turn themselves in.

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