Published in St. Louis American, December 6, 2018
Every so often the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department gives the community a gift. Sometimes that unplanned generosity is at cost of some poor soul – usually black in skin color. Such is the case of Luther Hall.
Prior to 1983, the African-American community complained of throw-away guns and drugs that cops keep in their cars to justify shooting or free-casing black citizens. We could never provide the proof.
Then came St. Louis cop Joseph Ferrario whose recklessness resulted in the murder of Marilyn Banks, a young, black mother sitting on her porch on a warm, summer day. Ferrario was in hot pursuit of a female teenager who was on foot running for her life as Ferrario fired several shots at her.
It was a gift – a gift that gave credibility to the years of declarations by black folks that the practice of police throw-aways was real and commonplace.
Back to Luther Hall. He got an old-fashioned cop whupping during a protest of the Jason Stockley not-guilty verdict in 2017. Hall is a 22-year veteran, African-American officer who was on duty as an undercover cop during the righteous community protests. The irony of this situation is that Hall was assigned to document criminal activity of the protestors that could warrant arrest charges.
The three officers involved in his beat-down apparently had a “lot of fun beating the hell out” of people on the scene once the sun went down. There were many protestors and innocent bystanders who suffered at the vicious hands of rogue cops that night, but their cases will be harder to prove than Hall’s case.
St. Louis cops Bailey Colletta, Randy Hays, Dustin Boone and Christopher Meyer have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their role in the beat-down and cover-up. All four were placed on administrative leave without pay and face up to 20 years in prison.
Let’s not sit around waiting and hoping for justice for victims of September 17, 2017 or any other day. All fair-minded, tax-paying citizens must come together to send a clear message to officers who think that “going rogue feels good.” There must be severe consequences for cops who think cracking heads is a “blast.”
A not-guilty verdict is not an option. Guilty as charged is real justice.