ACLU alleges police misconduct during protests following 2015 fa - KMOV.com

ACLU alleges police misconduct during protests following 2015 fatal officer-involved shooting

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Police on Walton after Mansur Ball-Bey was fatally shot on Aug. 19, 2015 (Credit: KMOV) Police on Walton after Mansur Ball-Bey was fatally shot on Aug. 19, 2015 (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com ) – The ACLU of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis and St. Clair County alleging police misconduct during protests following the 2015 shooting death of Mansur Ball-Bey by a St. Louis Police Officer.

Ball-Bey was shot and killed on Aug. 19, 2015 after authorities arrived at a home in the 1240 block of Walton to execute a search warrant. After police approached the home, two suspects were allegedly seen running out of the back armed with guns. When police ordered the duo to drop their weapons, 18-year-old Ball-Bey stopped and pointed a gun at police, according to then-Police Chief Sam Dotson. The officers then fired a total of four gunshots at Ball-Bey, killing him.

Hours after the fatal shooting, protesters and police clashed near the intersection of Page and Walton. Some protesters reportedly threw rocks and officers deployed tear gas. A car and several buildings were set on fire and police received reports of businesses being broken into. The demonstrations also briefly blocked the street. In total, nine people were arrested.

According to the ACLU’s lawsuit, the crowd gathered at the location to express disapproval following Ball-Bey’s death. The group was non-violent when around 50 officers arrived with riot gear and batons and ordered them to disperse.

“This lawsuit reveals a consistent pattern of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers repeatedly ignoring the First Amendment rights of the people they took an oath to protect and serve,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Officers should never retaliate against people for nonviolently assembling or publicly grieving the loss of a member of the community.”

The lawsuit claims that 30 minutes after the dispersal order was given, a police SWAT truck, which was allegedly being operated by the St. Louis Police Department and St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, was seen on a residential street in the neighborhood. Sarah Molina and Christina Vogel, who are both listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were reportedly standing on the sidewalk when “officers launched tear gas canisters and smoke grenades directly at them.”

“What we saw over the weekend – mass arrests and gassing of entire neighborhoods – didn’t occur in a vacuum. Enough is enough,” said Molina, a plaintiff in the case. “We need to push back and say ‘this is not okay.’ We need to push back against police interference with our Constitutional rights.”

That same night, Peter Groce, another plaintiff in the case, claimed officers shot pepper spray and a tear gas canister at him after he told police their SWAT truck should be in the street and not on the grass.

Last week, the ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis for “unlawful and unconstitutional” actions by officers during the first week of protesters following the not guilty verdict of Jason Stockley.

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