ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Two St. Louis police officers were charged Monday months after an off-duty incident outside of a bar.
Joseph Schmitt and William Olsten are charged with assault and armed criminal action.
Prosecutors said the officers were outside of Bomber O'Brien's Sports Bar on Beck Avenue in the Tower Grove South neighborhood around 1:30 a.m. on April 27, 2018 when they noticed a man, identified as S.D. in charging documents, sitting in a van.
S.D. told investigators he saw Schmitt approach his van in the parking lot with a group of others. No one in the group identified themselves as officers and were not in uniform, prosecutors said.
Schmitt crouched on the side of the van with his weapon drawn, according to charges, as Olsten opened a door and jumped into the van.
S.D. grabbed his gun and jumped from his van, in self defense, charging documents say. He tried to leave the scene by getting back in the van but was grabbed by Olsten and slammed to the ground, prosecutors allege. At that time, S.D.'s gun fired, wounding Olsten in the hand and upper arm.
As S.D. was trying to get away, Schmitt allegedly followed him and shot him multiple times, from behind, striking him in the arms and legs.
An off-duty St. Louis police officer and suspect were injured during an overnight shooting outside a south St. Louis bar.
S.D. and Olsten were treated at a St. Louis hospital.
All four officers that were at the bar at the time of the shooting were placed on administrative leave. Their status with the department is unknown.
At the time of the shooting, Police Chief John Hayden said S.D. could face an assault charge, but prosecutors tell News 4 they declined to file charges.
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office released the following statement on the charges Tuesday:
The alleged actions of these police officers strike at the heart of police power and community trust in law enforcement. Police officers are given great authority by the community. As prosecutors, we must have confidence in the words and actions of police officers when they bring charges to our office for potential prosecution. Individual’s liberty is at stake here. These types of situations, while rare, are crushing to the criminal justice system. I support our law enforcement officers and believe the vast majority of St. Louis police officers serve our community honorable every day. While it’s very discouraging to bring charges against police officers, I want to send a clear message to this community. No one is above the law, even law enforcement officers.
Jeff Roorda with the St. Louis Police Union released a statement Tuesday claiming Garnder's charges were an abuse of power and demanded the Circuit Attorney step down:
Kim Gardner has disregarded the statements of four police officers, video evidence and forensic evidence and instead decided to take the word of a would-be cop-killer who the police department describes as a known gang member and charged the victims in this crime. Here we have a prosecutor desperately trying to distract public attention from her own troubles. She is under Grand Jury investigation for suborning perjury of one of her investigators and now she has enticed testimony against police officers who were the victims of attempted murder. Of course he’s going to lie. Until Gardner is cleared of suspicion, she should step down and hand the reins over to a credible prosecutor who has the interests of justice at heart.
Gardner later responded:
The histrionics and exaggerations from the police association continue to discredit the good men and women of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Mr. Roorda’s theatrics and outlandish exaggerations make anything he says completely unreliable. His comments and behavior foster a climate in the city that is angry and completely unproductive. It’s time for the administration to put a stop to his antics.
It's very difficult for Ms. Gardner to be under investigation for crimes that did not occur. Mr. Roorda’s attempt to mischaracterize legal proceedings are perilously close to libel.
It’s time for all those who have a real concern for the City of St. Louis and all of its residents to join together to address the serious issues we have before us and promote confidence in our criminal justice system.