ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Friday, officer testimony continued as Sergeant Joseph Marcantano took the stand to recall the night of the arrest, and specifically the actions of Christopher Myers. Below are updates from the courthouse, with the most recent events first.
3:15 p.m. Text messages introduced
The prosecution followed the introduction of the video by bringing forth the other piece of new evidence for the re-trial, which are text messages sent by Boone and Myers, as well as a record of a FaceTime call Boone made to his then-girlfriend the night of Hall's arrest (the two are now married, and the prosecution previously stated they believed the two wed quickly so she could not be compelled to testify against her spouse).
The first message was from a friend of Myers' that said "I saw your 'officer get the f--- out of here video,'" and Myers replying "ouch yeah not my best day."
The next string of messages were from Boone, and were filled with racist language, including several instances of the n-word and descriptions of him reportedly abusing suspects.
In July 2017, for example, Boone texted several other officers using racial slurs writing "there r [n-words] running wild all across the city and even if/when we catch them...They don't get in any trouble because there are plate lips running the cao!" ... Using a slur in reference to the Circuit Attorney's Office. The city's Circuit Attorney is a Black woman.
In one message Boone described finding a suspect in tall grass without other people around and said he beat him. He also said the man was hospitalized.
In another, Boone said he and other officers made a suspect call himself "a p---y" in front of officers on the scene. Boone described the man repeating the phrase as commanded while vomiting on himself, then laughed and called it "the greatest moment of my short career."
They then moved through several of the same messages from the previous trial, in which Boone expressed eagerness to engage in violence with protesters, and Myers said "for some sick reason I live for this."
They then covered Boone's FaceTime call with his now-wife, which ran roughly from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. the night of Hall's arrest, and would have captured the incident in question (Hall was assaulted just after 8:50).
After that call ended, she texted Boone back, saying "Lol no! That’s so gross. But damn you guys need to practice more. Even I was confused. One guy was sayin HANDS DOWN, HANDS DOWN, Next dude saying HANDS UP. Then HANDS DOWN, HANDS DOWN, GET YOUR (expletive) HANDS UP.”
She also said the call was "soooo cool."
The prosecution then halted questions, saying they would return to the text messages at a later point in the trial. The defense had no questions.
2:30 p.m. Fellow officer and friend of Myers testifies
Justin Davis, an officer with the North St. Louis County Co-Op, took the stand Friday afternoon, testifying about a specific incident in which Myers was videotaped concealing his identity at the scene of a police incident.
The YouTube video, posted by a group called Cop Watch, is one of the new pieces of evidence introduced by the prosecution for the trial.
Davis, who was in the police academy with Myers and said the two are still friends, was called to the scene of a reported shots fired incident along with Myers and several other officers.
During that incident, people arrived with cameras and began asking the officers on scene questions. Davis can be heard telling them what the call was for, and responding "Davis" when they ask his name.
"I've dealt with them many times. They're looking for a reaction, so if you just give them your name, it's simpler," Davis said.
In the video he gets in a car and Myers gets in the passenger seat. A person holding the camera asks Myers if a member of the public called it in.
"Yep, sure did," he says.
"What's your name?" they ask.
"Officer," he replies.
When they moved the camera to the window to film Myers, he covered his badge and nametag. The person behind the camera asked, "officer what?" and Myers can be heard saying, "Get the f--- out of here."
Davis told prosecutors that Myers was speaking to him, telling him to drive away. The prosecution abruptly ended their questioning after a brief bench conference.
On cross-examination, Davis said he had much more experience with dealing with Cop Watch than Myers, and even so, being filmed on duty makes many officers uncomfortable because it puts their image and identity on the internet and could potentially pose a threat to them or their loved ones.
Rosenblum also had Davis re-iterate that Myers was speaking to him when he said "Get the f--- out of here," and that wasn't an unusual way for officers to talk to one another and he was not offended.
The prosecution originally introduced this video to show Myers had a pattern of trying to conceal information around police events, but Davis' testimony seemed to suggest Myers' behavior in the video wasn't unusual or out of bounds for an officer who suddenly found themselves being filmed.
2:10 p.m. "I discussed it with my lawyer"
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Constantin began her rebuttal of Rosenblum's cross-examination and was met by several objections. Rosenblum peppered objections for leading, hearsay, and speculation throughout her line of questioning, often breaking the rhythm of the back and forth.
She reiterated that though Myers could not be seen smoking in the photos, it doesn't prove he wasn't and therefore Marcantano could have easily thought he was throwing away a cigarette initially.
She then asked if he ever discussed Myers' comments about the phone prior to the FBI interview, and Marcantano said he told his lawyer long before that interview ever occurred. Rosenblum previously casted doubt in Marcantano's recollection, given that his FBI interview took place more than two years after the conversation.
10:20 a.m. "Did you suspect you were a target?"
Rosenblum's cross-examination of Marcantano centered early on Marcantano's cooperation with FBI investigators. For nearly 20 minutes, he walked through a proffer letter from the government, which outlined the details of Marcantano's cooperation with investigators and the fact what he told them could not be used against him in any potential trial.
Marcantano did not meet with the FBI until two years and two months after Hall's arrest. Initially, when the FBI contacted him, he referred them to his attorney. Rosenblum pointed out that when Marcantano did eventually meet with investigators, it was 12 days after Randy Hays pleaded guilty to his role in the assault, and implied Marcantano's cooperation was to avoid potential prosecution.
"Did you suspect you were a target [of the investigation]?" Rosenblum asked.
"I suspected that it was possible," Marcantano replied.
He suggested that Marcantano went into that meeting with the goal of avoiding prosecution, but Marcantano repeatedly said he never believed he did anything wrong.
In later examination, Rosenblum again worked to establish the chaos of the night Hall was arrested, and pointed out the fact that several officers were on teams they weren't normally on, and reporting to commanding officers they normally didn't report to.
Marcantano agreed, and specifically said the formation the officers were in as they ran to the intersection where Hall was arrested was "not ideal."
Rosenblum also established that officers rely on their colleagues, essentially taking their word, when they come to assist during an arrest.
"You don't have to personally see a crime being committed," Rosenblum said. "You assume that it's a lawful arrest."
Through a series of rapid-fire questions, Rosenblum had Maracanto affirm that at the time, he didn't have any reason to assume anything out of bounds had happened in either arrest. Marcantano said even his strikes to Ford's ribs were within the bounds of procedure, and that even though Hall was visibly injured, no one who came upon either subject would immediately think something unlawful had happened during the arrest.
Essentially, Rosenblum was establishing that subjects who resist arrest are often injured during their apprehension, and at the moment, anyone who assisted with either the arrest or who was at the scene would assume it was lawful.
This argument would work in both defendants' favor. For Myers to be found guilty, the prosecution has to prove he damaged the phone with the intent to impede a potential investigation. Rosenblum's premise is that if those present at the scene believed nothing unlawful had happened, there would be no incentive to damage the phone because there would be no assumption of a potential investigation.
For Boone, the establishment that officers routinely assume an arrest is lawful - and specifically that the officers present at Hall's arrest thought nothing unlawful happened - would mean his assistance in Hall's arrest was not informed by his desire to deprive him of his rights, but normal police protocol.
Marcantano would later testify that he saw Myers return Hall's camera to his backpack (the defense claims Myers also put the phone in there), and said he did not see SWAT officers put any belongings in the pack as Hall stated Thursday.
There was also a great deal of time spent on Marcantano's assertion that he saw Myers remove the battery from that camera, then throw it away moments later.
Marcantano said on the night, he caught the throwing motion out of the corner of his eye and assumed Myers was throwing a cigarette, since he had been smoking. It was later that he read an article stating the battery was not returned to Hall that he believed the motion must have been Myers throwing the battery.
Rosenblum challenged this assertion, saying Marcantano never actually saw Myers throw the battery, and is assuming he was only after reading a newspaper article. Marcantano, however, said he was certain he saw Myers remove the battery.
While the camera is not part of the charge facing Myers, the prosecution has argued his removing the battery (and Marcantano's later assertion he threw it away) speaks to his intent to destroy evidence surrounding the arrests.
Rosenblum also worked to show that it was Marcantano behind Hall, not Myers, and therefore suggest it may have been Marcantano who kneed him in the back. Since Hall previously said the same officer who kneed him in the back was the one who broke his camera, and he specifically said that person was Christopher Myers, Rosenblum was working to show his recollection may not have been accurate, especially given that Marcantano admitted he was the one who removed the camera from Hall's neck.
Hall later said he assumed the officer was the same person given how quickly the two events happened in succession, but Thursday was the first time he offered that explanation.
9:00 a.m. "I was shocked by his admission"
Sergeant Joseph Marcantano was the first witness called Friday, and detailed his role in the moments after Hall's arrest, and a moment in which he believes Christopher Myers admitted he damaged Hall's phone. Marcantano was part of an arrest team with the Civil Disobedience Team (CDT) on the night of the incident, along with Myers.
Crowd control and arrests during such incidents work like this: CDT officers (more commonly known as riot officers) form a line with sticks and shields, with an arrest team of eight officers behind them. When the ranking officer at the scene decides a person needs to be arrested, two officers in the CDT line part, and the eight members of the arrest team move forward. Four of them go past the individual to create space, two officers, who are not carrying sticks or shields, referred to as "open hands," are charged with taking the person into custody, and the remaining two use shields to keep the space between the arrest and the line of CDT officers clear so the subject can be taken back behind the line.
Both Marcantano and Myers were "open hands" officers on the arrest team, and were at the intersection at the moment Hall and another man, Landry Ford, were taken into custody. Marcantano was the officer who arrested Ford. According to Marcantano, Ford had one of his arms underneath him, and pulled back against the officer's efforts to pull it behind him.
"He pulled back against me. I delivered between one and three knee strikes to the hip and rib cage area," he said.
Marcantano said at that point, Ford let himself be cuffed. The officer said he never saw Hall's arrest because he was cuffing Ford at the time. Once Hall and Ford were seated on the curb, Marcantano said he removed Hall's camera from his neck.
This is important, because through every recounting of the event prior to Thursday, Hall has said the officer who removed his camera and broke it was the same one kneeing him in the back, and the same one who picked it up. In previous statements, he was certain of that. Given his contention that Myers was the officer kneeing him in the back, that would mean Myers was the one who took his camera off and dropped it on the ground. Thursday, he explained for the first time that he assumed they were the same person, because of how quickly the two events happened in succession.
Myers reportedly did pick up the camera and remove the battery, but the defense has argued he was not kneeing Hall in the back, and did not break the camera.
Friday Marcantano confirmed he was the one who removed the camera, and also the one who dropped it on the ground, though he said it was an accident.
"I was panicked, I was mortified," Marcantano said, implying he felt bad about the damage. "I didn't look at it, like if I didn't look at it I didn't drop it."
(Later, Marcantano would say he specifically told his supervisor he did not "spike it, or throw it," because once he knew Hall was an officer, he wanted to clarify his actions.)
"Once I found out he was an undercover officer, I realized the possibility he resisted arrest was basically zero, and I know how it can look if the camera was broken and a person did not resist" he said, adding that he was worried his superior wouldn't believe him, so made a point to explain the camera was dropped accidentally.
He said shortly after, then-Sergeant Randy Jemerson arrived on scene and recognized Hall (Jemerson was later promoted to Lieutenant). Marcantano said he did not know Hall was an officer, and when asked by Jemerson what happened, Marcantano said "resisting and failure to disperse." Ford had pulled back against Marcantano as he was trying to cuff him, and though he didn't see Hall's arrest, Marcantano believed because Hall had injuries, he must have been resisting as well.
The next day when officers were assembled, Jemerson called for anyone who was present at the arrest at 14th and Olive to talk to him outside. Marcantano said Jemerson wanted to know about what happened with "the tall guy," before telling them Hall was an undercover officer.
"He's hurt, and I want to know what happened," Marcantano recalled him saying.
Another officer went to get Dustin Boone and Randy Hays, who were the ones who reportedly took Hall into custody. When the pair was asked what happened, Marcantano said he couldn't remember who responded, but remembered someone saying, "He didn't want to give up his hands, we had to give him the stick."
Later on, Marcantano said he and Myers were refueling at the same gas depot. At that point, members of the department were aware an officer had been assaulted during an arrest, and Myers reportedly asked Marcantano if he had heard anything. Marcantano said he told him no, and then Myers mentioned the cell phone.
"It's bulls---," Myers said, according to Marcantano. "The cell phone was on me, I'll own what I did, but I am not the one who f----- him up."
When asked by the prosecutor how he reacted, Marcantano said "I was shocked by his admission."