Even Undercover Officers Aren’t Safe From Police Brutality

It’s highly problematic – and a little bit ironic, too – that when American citizens gather to protest police brutality, many cops’ first instinct is to want to go beat up the demonstrators. Nevertheless, that was the approach for a few officers in St. Louis – and they might have gotten away with it if the guy they selected to brutalize didn’t happen to be an undercover officer.

Let’s set the scene: in September 2017, the black community in St. Louis was angry when local officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of first degree murder for shooting Anthony Lamar Smith in his car. Protests formed to speak out against yet another example of a black man losing his life to excessive police violence, and the city dispatched plenty of police as a means of crowd control.

Leading up to the demonstration, officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Myers engaged in an incriminating text message chain. “Let’s whoop some ass,” Myers wrote. “It’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these shitheads once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!!” typed Boone, later adding, “We really need these fuckers to start acting up so we can have some fun,” Boone also wrote.

Hays seemed to be the most judicious of the trio, writing that they shouldn’t be violent before conceding, “going rogue does feel good.” He further referenced that the white part of the city would take the officers’ side, but they needed to avoid being filmed. “Make sure you have an old white dude as a witness,” Hays suggested.

Clearly, these cops’ intent was to arrive at the protests and bust some heads for fun – unfortunately for them, they chose the wrong victim: an unnamed black detective of over 20 years dressed in plain clothes to blend into the crowd. Despite the detective causing no problems and adhering to the officers’ commands, the police still kicked him, threw him on the ground and beat him with a baton while accusing him of resisting arrest.

When it later became clear that the guy they beat up was one of their own, the officers intimidated witnesses into keeping quiet including the detective himself. They also destroyed the detective’s phone in an effort to minimize evidence.

A fourth officer, Bailey Colletta, aided in the cover-up and participated in lying to their superiors, the FBI and a grand jury about what had really happened. Now all four of them face an excess of 20 years in jail for their crimes.

You can’t help but feel the only reason these people are facing substantial consequences for this complete abuse of power is because they accidentally perpetuated violence against a fellow veteran officer. If this were anyone else but another police officer, would his testimony be considered credible against the police? Would the police not just work to cover up this incident and ignore justice?

Statistics plainly show that police utilize excessive force against people of color at disparate rates, yet when Americans try to protest to change the system, they are literally met with arrest and further violence (see: What Happens When You Protest Police Brutality?) Reform doesn’t come because the police don’t want to change, nor is any overseeing body requiring officers to.

Even Hays, who initially cautioned against violence, clearly got caught up in the peer pressure of it all, which shows how pervasive the racist, vengeful police culture is. That the St. Louis Police Department can and has tried to blame this particular situation as one of having a few bad apples is a convenient and inadequate excuse to look at its larger issues.

Let’s also use this incident to reflect on the all-too-common practice of covertly planting officers within protesters. Typically, they’re used to drum up drama in order to get others arrested, not be beaten themselves, but it’s not the kind of tactic the police should be pulling on people exercising their First Amendment rights anyway.

On this occasion, however, it’s good that an undercover detective was present to perhaps accidentally shed a light on the brutality that prevails against communities of color. It’s not an isolated incident, it’s just the kind of things officers are able to get away with in most situations.

42 comments

Lorrie O
Lorrie O9 days ago

CO2. Chastity. Obedience. 2, not 3, words.

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danii p
danii p11 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p11 days ago

Thank you

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson11 days ago

Thank you.

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Sherri S
Sherri S13 days ago

I'm a white woman and have been verbally abused and threaten by more than one cop and on more than one occasion. So I'm not surprised some of these so-called cops just want to intimidate and beat the hell out of an everyday citizen!

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Sue L
Sue L13 days ago

This stuff happens all too frequently in our country. And yet many people cannot seem to understand just how dangerous it is for black people to be just living their lives and going about their business. They face institutional racism on a daily basis.

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Tabot T
Tabot T13 days ago

Crazy

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Toni W
Toni W13 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W13 days ago

TYFS

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Debbi W
Debbi W13 days ago

Officers like those need to found out, fired, then investigated for possible charges.

We need to be able to trust law enforcement officers, not live in fear of them, the way the Germans did with Hitler's Gestapo. Trump is doing his best to terrorize people by drying to 'normalize' fear with the thousands of his cult beating people. The gestapo had such a tight hold on all of Germany that no one was safe. We must make sure that doesn't happen here.

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