Jimmie Edwards and Police Chief John Hayden

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner sent a letter to the Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards (left) and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden (right) telling them that the police department “may be limited in their actions due to its labor agreements,” her office has stopped taking cases from cops revealed to make bigoted social media posts.

On June 18, Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner sent a letter to the Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden to inform them of the actions she has taken regarding the racially charged social media posts of current and retired city police officers recently revealed by the Plain View Project.

Gardner said she has done an extensive review of these disturbing social media posts. 



“Police integrity is at the core of the community’s confidence in the criminal justice system,” Gardner said. “When a police officer’s integrity is compromised in this manner, it compromises the entire criminal justice system and our overall ability to pursue justice. After careful examination of the underlying bias contained in those social media posts, we have concluded that this bias would likely influence an officer’s ability to perform his or her duties in an unbiased manner.”

Gardner told them that she was placing 22 officers on her office’s exclusion list — known as a Brady List — that prohibits those officers from presenting cases to the Circuit Attorney’s Office. The term “Brady List” is named for John Leo Brady, the plaintiff in the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. The decision in that case required prosecutors to inform the defense of any evidence that might exonerate the defendant, including a police officer who is known to be biased or racist.

Seven of the 22 officers identified with making bigoted and violent social media posts are permanently banned from the Circuit Attorney’s Warrant Office. These officers are not permitted to present themselves or cases to the Circuit Attorney’s Office, Gardner said. And cases currently under review, in which these officers are essential witnesses, will be refused. Similarly, search warrants in which they are involved will not be signed or approved.

The remaining 15 officers banned will be reviewed “in accordance with our mutually agreed upon protocol to determine conditions for reinstatement” for the officers to present cases again.

According to Gardner’s statement, she informed Hayden and Edwards that many of the social media statements and viewpoints of these officers are “shocking and beneath the dignity of someone who holds such a powerful position, especially those comments that advocate violence.” 

“While the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department may be limited in their actions due to its labor agreements, the Circuit Attorney’s Office has no such privity with those contracts,” she stated.

Of the 44 St. Louis Police officers documented in the database The Plain View Project (that was initially published by Buzzfeed), 23 of them are still on the force, Hayden said at a June 10 aldermanic meeting. Three of the “most egregious” offenders were put on desk duty, the chief said, while the police department conducts an “extensive investigation.”

Many of their posts included the Confederate flag, while some made racist remarks about Islam and minority groups. Some posts suggested violence towards protestors and the community.

A July 2013 Facebook post from current officer Michael Calcaterra read, “They said, ‘F--k the police,’ so I said, ‘F--k your 911 call. I’ll get to your dying home boy when I finish my coffee.”

Milton Green.Prince.Carter.jpg

Milton Green (right) with Prince Carter

 

 

Black cop shot by white cop fights for pension

 

Milton Green’s a black cop who was living in North St. Louis — in the Baden neighborhood — when he was shot by a fellow white cop on June 21, 2017. Green is exactly what the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and city leadership say it wants: a cop who comes from the black community, who understands how to talk to black children and teenagers and has the highest level of integrity.

But actions speak louder than words.

On June 12, the Police Retirement System of St. Louis held a pension hearing for Green. Javad Khazaeli, Green’s attorney, said that rather than arguing that Green’s pension claim to be heard and granted quickly — as it’s done with every other officer injured in the line of duty — the City Counselor’s Office “cross-examined” Green for two hours.

And Green, a father of four, still hasn’t gotten his pension — and his home could go into foreclosure.

Mark Lawson, associate city counselor who also is also counselor for the pension board, was the person asking Green the questions. City Counselor Julian Bush said that the questioning went on for less than two hours, “but he did question him extensively.”

“It’s probably not accurate or fair to call it a cross-examination,” Bush said. “That makes it sound like there was a trial. Mr. Green was under oath. It was simply asking questions pertinent to his application.”

The hearing was a closed session, so Bush couldn’t speak about what Lawson’s questions were. As far as why it’s taken almost two years to process Green’s application, Bush said, “Because it involved the use of force, the Force Investigative Unit of the police division investigated the matter and that caused the delay.”

The Force Investigation Unit’s Steve Burle was in charge of investigating Green’s case. Burle is the father of the officer who shot Green, Christopher Tanner. The Ethical Society of Police (ESOP), an association largely for black city police officers, has been decrying this conflict of interest since 2017.

“[Burle and Tanner] are friends. It’s terrible,” said Heather Taylor, president of ESOP. “We told [then-interim police chief] Lawrence O’Toole and the Force Investigation Unit supervisor. We said all of that, and they didn’t listen.”

Burle was also seen in a viral video in November 2017 cussing out a person who honked at his unmarked police car, after Burle didn’t move forward at a green light.

A pension board hearing was originally scheduled for February, but the police department asked to push it back to June 2019, according to the lawsuit that Green filed on June 17 against Christopher Tanner and the City of St. Louis. The police claimed that nearly two years later, a second police report about the incident has mysteriously resurfaced and they needed time to review it, the lawsuit states. And the department refused to provide a copy of the report to Green or the board.

“To this date, the pension board has not ruled on Officer Green’s claim, and he continues to suffer needlessly in limbo,” the lawsuit states.

Bush said he expects the case to be resolved at the next pension board meeting on June 26.

The American has learned that Tanner is no longer on the police force because he was caught intoxicated on duty.

Green and Tanner were both members of the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association (SLPOA), the bargaining agent for police officers. The union raised about $2,000 for Tanner but has held no fundraisers for Green, the lawsuit states.

“In contrast, the SLPOA held a large fundraiser on June [12], 2019 for disgraced ex-SLMPD officer William Olsten,” the lawsuit states. “The fundraiser, which included free beer and food, was a watch party for the final game of the Stanley Cup Championship. All proceeds went to Olsten, a white officer currently under indictment for beating and shooting a man he had argued with in a bar and lying to police about what occurred. Olsten is also a defendant in a half-dozen civil rights suits alleging that he used excessive force.”

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