Officer fired from local department, now facing charges at another


by Maggie Crane

Posted on November 8, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 9 at 5:35 AM

(KMOV) -- A police officer seen in a 2007 videotaped tirade against a driver is at the center of a criminal investigation.

James Kuehnlein was fired from the St. George Police Department after the video surfaced. 

In it, you hear Kuehnline berating the driver, Brett Darrow:  "You want to try me?  You want to try me tonight?  You think you've had a bad night?

I will ruin your ****ing night."

Charges were never filed, and Kuehnlein went to work for the Velda City Police Department.

Now, he faces charges for kidnapping and domestic assault.

Kuehnlein's boss refused to talk about the case before it goes to court, but Chief Dan Paulino tells me that James Kuehnlein's career is certainly on the line.

According to court documents, Kuehnlein held a woman against her will at a home in South St. Louis early Sunday morning.  He's also accused of head-butting her, choking her and pulling her hair.

This isn't the first time Kuehnlein has been in trouble with the law.  In 1988 he pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor assault. The crimes were later expunged.

The Velda City Police chief tells me that Kuehnlein is on paid, administrative leave for the criminal, domestic charges against him.  The chief took his badge, his duty weapon, even his personal gun.  And while he wouldn't elaborate, the chief says that just last week he demoted Kuehnlein from his sergeant's position.  Chief Paulino says his officers must follow his code of conduct.

"He'll be faced with an internal investigation where our standards are more stringent than what the outcome of the criminal investigation could be," Chief Paulino says.

The chief says that code of conduct includes a stipulation that an officer can be dismissed for bringing disgrace upon the department.

Kuehnlein's attorney tells me that the officer does not wish to make a statement.  He's home on bond tonight.