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EXPLAINER: Understanding the trial of St. Louis officers accused of assaulting undercover detective Luther Hall

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St. Louis Officers on trial

 

Update: March 29, 2021: Steven Korte was found not guilty on all counts Monday, and Christopher Myers and Dustin Boone had mistrials declared on different counts they were facing. All three were charged with deprivation of rights under color of law.

Korte was also facing the charge of lying to the FBI, while Myers was facing an additional count of destroying evidence.

Boone had a mistrial declared for his charge of deprivation of rights, Myers had a mistrial declared for his charge of destroying evidence. In all other counts for the three, the jury ruled not guilty. This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more details as coverage continues.

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- As the jury continues deliberation in the trial of three St. Louis police officers accused of assaulting undercover detective, Luther Hall, during a protest in 2017, lets take a look at the who's on trial, some of the evidence, and other notes from the trial, which wrapped up Friday.

BACKGROUND

Steven Korte, Christopher Myers and Dustin Boone were indicted on a charge of deprivation of rights under the color of law. Korte also faces a charge of lying to the FBI and Myers faces an additional charge of destroying evidence. Officers Baily Colletta and Randy Hays were also indicted but have pleaded guilty. Hall was arrested while working as an undercover officer during protests in 2017 following the acquittal of officer Jason Stockley. He previously testified he was severely injured by the arresting officers even though he was complying with their commands.

All three officers, while being tried together, can receive separate verdicts and each had separate defense teams.

EVIDENCE

Hall was rolling video on his cell phone, but it was knocked to the ground during the assault, and the video does not clearly show who did the beating. A local media photographer captured many photos of the aftermath of the assault, but there is a gap of about 40 seconds where the incident itself was not documented. Text messages from the officers themselves have also become a part of the evidence. Much of the other evidence consists of the actual testimony of a number of witnesses, including current police leadership. Defense attorneys have seized upon the fact that it didn’t appear officers knew there was an undercover on the street and that there was no “safe word,” for officers working undercover.

LUTHER HALL

Hall is the alleged victim in the case. He has been a St. Louis Police Officer since 1995 and is still currently employed. In 2017, he was working protests as an undercover detective. On the stand, he testified that his purpose there was to gather information about people committing crimes. He was in plain clothes and did not have his duty weapon on him. He testified that he was rushed by a group of police officers who ordered him to the ground and then severely beat him. He testified it was a “free-for-all.” He sustained injuries to his face and body and still has residual impact from those injuries to this day. Prosecutors have made the argument that there was no reason to arrest Hall or use that type of force and also, that he was mistaken for a protestor, which was why he was beaten.

DUSTIN BOONE

Boone is one of the defendants on trial. He first started with the department in 2016, but is no longer employed with the department. He was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law. Boone is represented by defense attorney Patrick Kilgore. Prosecutors pointed to text messages Boone sent both before and after the incident. One text read: “It’s going to be a lot of fun beating the sh** out of these sh**heads.” Another appeared to indicate he wanted to apologize to Hall directly. In closing arguments, Kilgore said photos show Boone was not present during the beating and said the text messages were taken out of context.

STEVEN KORTE

Korte is one of the defendants on trial. He is the only officer still currently employed. He was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and additionally charged with lying to the FBI. Former officer Randy Hays testified he saw Korte kick Hall during the incident. But John Rogers, Korte’s defense attorney, tried to cast doubt on Hays’ testimony. Prosecutors pointed out that other officers also identified Korte’s voice on Halls’ cellphone video.

"Lack of credible evidence leads to speculation which leads to desperation which leads to poor prosecution," said Rogers. 

CHRISTOPHER MYERS

Myers is one of the defendants on trial. He started with the department in 2015, but is no longer employed. He was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and additionally charged with destroying evidence. A former police officer, now FBI agent, testified he saw Myers attack Hall with punches and kicks. Prosecutors also argued Myers admitted he had hit Hall to other officers. He’s also seen on Halls’ video, which prosecutors said he was trying to destroy in order to cover up what he did. But Myers’ defense attorney, Scott Rosenblum, argued against that, saying Myers was only tossing the phone. Rosenblum said the prosecution’s case was based on speculation and the arguments were preposterous.

RANDY HAYS

Hays is a former St. Louis police officer, who was initially charged for his part in the beating and has since pleaded guilty. He is awaiting sentencing and became a key witness in the trial. He admitted he hit Hall, but he testified he also saw Korte kick Hall, and also says he saw Myers nearby. Hays had initially told commanders that Hall had resisted arrested and refused to put his hands up during the trial. On the stand, defense attorneys, however, attempted to discredit Hays’ testimony, claiming he is angling to get a better deal. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

"After hindsight and recollection, I was in the wrong." Hays said on the stand, upon being questioned by defense attorney Scott Rosenblum.

Hays testified to seeing Korte kick hall in the face, but not Boone or Myers. He said he recalled Boone near Hall's head with his knees on his shoulders and his hand on his head.

BAILEY COLLETTA

Colletta, another former officer, was also initially charged with lying to the FBI. She has also pleaded guilty. She could face up to 30 months in prison when she is sentenced in April.

THE JURY

The jury, which was selected from across the region as is standard in federal trials, is predominately white. Initially, it was an all-white jury, however one alternate, who is Black, was utilized.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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