I've been a journalist for nearly thirty years, but until this story I have never interviewed on-camera a top prosecutor, police chief and presiding judge so willing to talk about a recent high profile criminal case, much less criticize how the legal system, and each other handled that case.
Last October, Carlos Boles was suspected of having drugs near an apartment building in south St. Louis. According to the police report, cops asked him to surrender, but Boles attacked one of the officers. They cops eventually hit Boles repeatedly with fists, a baton, maced and tased him before he finally quit.
The Circuit Attorney decided to "take the case under advisement," which is a nice way of saying forget it, at least today. Since no charges were filed, Boles was released the day after his arrest. He wasn't charged for a month. Then, a warrant was issued for his arrest, but police apparently didn't pursue him aggressively until a source said Boles was threatening and dangerous. The tip arrived six days before law enforcement officers arrived in force to serve the warrant on Boles.
The suspect was ready for them, firing a barrage of gunfire that wounded a cop and two deputy marshals, including John Perry who later died.
The willingness of Chief Isom, Circuit Attorney Joyce and Judge Garvey to discuss the case in such a direct way indicates that they are extremely frustrated with the way law and order is handled in the city of St. Louis. The Boles case reflects many of the challenges facing cops, prosecutors and judges in a city that needs to find a faster way to charge criminals, especially in drug cases. Then, law enforcement officials must find a more effective method of tracking down the most dangerous defendants once they are turned loose.
Carlos Boles is one example of how justice delayed can also become deadly.