Black undercover cop beaten by officers at St. Louis protest sues the city, police

A black undercover St. Louis cop, beaten by police during a protest spurred by an officer killing an African-American man, has filed a lawsuit.

While a criminal case against some of the officers is ongoing, the federal lawsuit filed Monday by Luther Hall describes new details of the incident — including an elevator ride with Mayor Lyda Krewson right after he was seriously injured by police.

In 2017, Hall and his partner had been assigned to monitor the protests after the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a police officer found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of a black man.

When they saw demonstrators breaking windows and flower pots, Hall and his partner followed them and gave updates to a detective at a command center. The group split when cops ran at them, firing bean bags and holding batons, according to the lawsuit.

The officers also used mace canisters and shot “pepper balls” at the crowd — but Hall never heard them give an order for the crowd to disperse, the suit says. He saw no justification for the use of force.

Hall kept following some of the people who’d been destroying property. All the while, police were using mace, pepper balls and bean bag bullets on the crowd as people tried to leave, according to the lawsuit.

Suddenly, a vehicle stopped next to Hall and cops jumped out. Hall put up his hands, with his phone in one and a camera in the other, according to the lawsuit. A cop told Hall to get on the ground, the lawsuit says, and he followed the order.

But cops would later tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Hall refused to show his hands, according to the lawsuit.

While on the ground, Hall was picked up and slammed to the ground twice, according to the lawsuit.

“Hall felt blood gushing out of his nose and lip,” the lawsuit says.

Then cops surrounded Hall and began beating him with their fists and batons, according to the lawsuit. He was handcuffed while police searched his backpack, finding only two bags of chocolate graham crackers, a phone and photo equipment, the lawsuit says.

After the search, an officer threw Hall’s camera to the ground — breaking it — and smashed his cellphone with a baton, according to the lawsuit. Whenever Hall tried to straighten his back, a police officer kicked him on the head and face, the lawsuit says.

“Stop (expletive) moving,” the officer said, according to the lawsuit.

Because Hall didn’t want to blow his cover, he sat handcuffed for about 10 minutes until someone recognized him as a police officer, the lawsuit says. A member of the SWAT team removed him from the scene.

“Hey, where are you going with him?” a police officer said, according to the lawsuit. “That’s my arrest.”

Hall’s partner, who is white, was also “unlawfully” arrested, but he wasn’t beaten, the lawsuit says.

Hall was diagnosed with a concussion by medics at the scene and taken to police headquarters, where he told police that he’d been beaten, the lawsuit says.

Then Hall went to a triage center because of his serious injuries, including a herniated disc, torn rotator cuff, bruised tailbone, cuts to his face and lip that required stitches and inflamed jaw muscles that prevented him from eating, the lawsuit says.

After getting treatment, a driver for Mayor Krewson returned Hall to police headquarters. He rode up an elevator with the mayor — who knew he’d been working undercover at the protests, the lawsuit says.

“Oh, they messed up your cute face,” Krewson told him, according to the lawsuit.

Krewson said she can’t remember making the comment but didn’t deny it, KMOV reported.

Four police officers were charged in connection with the beating, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. One of the officers pleaded guilty this month, admitting to lying to a grand jury and the FBI about the arrest, the newspaper reported.

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Chacour Koop is a Real-Time reporter based in Kansas City. Previously, he reported for the Associated Press, Galveston County Daily News and Daily Herald in Chicago.