‘Slammed me into the ground’; Undercover officer beaten up during Stockley protests speaks out in first interview
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The undercover St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer beaten up during protests nearly five years ago is speaking out for the first time.
Luther Hall, Jr. was severely injured when he was attacked by his own colleagues on the St. Louis police force. He waited to make public comments until the criminal cases in the incident were resolved. Hall spoke with KMOV-TV Chief Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager this week.
Hall said the sentences handed out in his case were just another slap in the face.
“My outlook on law enforcement is definitely changed,” said Hall.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Hall dedicated 22 years to protecting and serving.
“I joined and I loved it,” he said.
But he chokes back tears, as he remembers the day everything changed.
“Is it something you think about every day?” asked Trager.
“Yeah. I do,” answered Hall. “For the longest, I had trouble driving past there.”
It was September 2017.
People were protesting the acquittal of another officer Jason Stockley who’d been accused of murder.
Hall was assigned to work undercover. He was in plain clothes as he walked among the crowd in downtown St. Louis, documenting property damage.
He was livestreaming back to command staff at police headquarters, or so he thought.
“It was a protection for us, if we got into a situation where it got squirrely, we could let the department know where we were. But we found out no one was monitoring our livestreams at all.”
In the video, Hall is seen walking and eventually running alongside protestors until the video only partially captures what happens next: uniformed officers in riot gear surrounded him and told him to get on the ground.
“As I started to go to the ground, someone picked me up and slammed me into the ground, umm, a couple of times and I started feeling, people punching and kicking and striking me as I was lying on the ground,” Hall said.
They didn’t know he was one of them. He said it was soon clear the officers just wanted to pummel protestors.
“I could have been anybody, but being Black definitely didn’t help,” Hall said.
Hall was hurt badly, bleeding and in pain.
“The hole was big enough that the medic for the highway patrol was able to put his pinky through the hole in my face,” Hall said.
But he says the Department was more concerned with the cover-up.
He wasn’t taken to a hospital for example.
An injury report written at the time said only “as officers were making arrests, Officer Hall was knocked to the ground striking the concrete.”
“They completely lied, completely lied,” he said.
The police, he said, tried shifting blame to him.
“And again, just to make that very clear, you did not resist arrest?” Trager asked. “No,” Hall said. “You complied with commands?” Trager asked. “Correct,” Hall said.
Eventually, the FBI got involved and five SLMPD officers were charged federally for their parts in the incident.
Bailey Colletta pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Randy Hayes pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
“Colleta and Hayes were big enough to man up and say we were wrong for what happened,” Hall said.
But three others rolled the dice, in front of nearly all-white juries.
“I don’t have a lot of faith in federal juries, in this region because of where they are picked from,” said Hall, referring to the fact that they can come from predominantly white and rural areas outside St. Louis.
In the end, after two trials, Steven Korte was acquitted, Christopher Myers pleaded guilty to destroying Hall’s phone that night and Dustin Boone was found guilty of depriving Hall of his civil rights, by way of the assault.
Boone’s text messages, before and after the beating, were admitted at trial. Many of them used the n-word.
It all added to the betrayal, Hall said.
“I considered his family kind of like friends,” he said.
But Myers only got probation. Boone was given a year in prison and can serve even less.
“The sentences the judge gave out were a slap in the face. I don’t even understand his reasoning behind his sentence at all,” Hall said.
He said it’s evidence that the system is stacked against Black people, even if they’re police officers.
“I went into this thinking that there would be justice and that they would be made examples of and other officers would say ‘I need to do things differently,’ but I don’t think anything came out of it,” Hall said.
An internal affairs investigation is still ongoing, but Hall believes not all involved have been held accountable.
“We still have a lot of officers that have that racist mentality that are on the department and they train other officers and it just keeps going,” Hall said.
Hall has plates in his neck and a scar from the surgery. He’s never regained all the weight he lost when he couldn’t eat.
Even sitting for the interview was painful. The incident, he says, will be with him forever.
“I am kind of done with St. Louis,” Hall said.
It’s why, with the last of the criminal proceedings is over, he’s planning to move.
He was awarded $5 million in a civil suit against the city.
His time protecting and serving in St. Louis is absolutely over.
“I still want to work, I cannot be a policeman, I still want to be a productive part of [society], just not here,” he said.
Hall is still pursuing a civil lawsuit against the officers.
It was a different administration back then, both police chief and mayor. And Hall said he is hopeful they are doing more to weed out bad officers.
News 4 asked the department to comment on Hall’s allegations. They referred us to a previous statement which reads:
“Officer accountability is, and has been, a pillar of my administration. At the behest of the federal authorities and the United States Attorney’s Office, our Department has delayed any internal investigation into the assault of Officer Hall so as not to compromise the criminal investigation. Our Department has fully cooperated with the federal investigation and has been assured that the FBI will fully cooperate with our internal investigation.
It is our hope to now obtain all relevant evidence from the FBI to conduct a complete and thorough internal investigation.”
They said that investigation is still ongoing and they could not comment any further.
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