The incident in question took place after former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. During a protest that followed the acquittal, a Black police officer by the name of Luther Hall was working undercover. However, three of his colleagues, Randy Hays, Bailey Colletta and Dustin Boone, mistook him for a protester and began beating him.
In the aftermath of the beating, Hall was left with permanent physical damages and PTSD. BuzzFeed News also reports that he was also awarded a $5 million settlement from the police department. Adding on, the officers who beat Hall all faced criminal charges. Hays, the officer who struck Hall with the baton, was sentenced to just over four years in prison. Meanwhile, Bailey Colletta, was only sentenced to three years of probation and two consecutive weekends in prison for lying to a grand jury about the incident. This week, the final officer, Dustin Boone, received his sentence. Despite the prosecution asking for a sentence of 10 years and the defense asking for a sentence of more than two years in jail, US District Judge E. Richard Webber offered Boone a sentence of only 366 days.
Supporters of Hall were shocked that Webber offered Boone a sentence that was lighter than what the defense had requested. Throughout Boone’s trial, the prosecution had presented evidence that the St. Louis police officer had boasted about beating Hall before learning that he was an undercover officer. As reported by BuzzFeed News, Boone live-streamed the incident to his girlfriend. She replied by texting, “Soooooo Cool.” A report from BuzzFeed News also highlights text messages that Boone sent before he and his colleagues and began working that night.
“But 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,” Boone wrote.
Also, Boone reportedly used racial slurs and boasted about beating other citizens during his time as a police officer. However, Boone’s attorneys argued that these actions don’t represent the “real” defendant. Instead, defense attorneys argue that he “fell prey to a police culture of excessive force that permeated his own department.”
Despite the defense’s claims, the prosecution presented evidence that shows Boone had expressed these views in his private life as well. According to BuzzFeed News, prosecutors presented text messages sent between him and members of his family. Throughout several text threads, Black people were compared to monkeys, racial epithets were used and one person remarked that protesters were banging drums as if “they were back in Africa doing a rain dance.”
Given the amount of evidence presented against Boone, it surprised few that he was convicted. In contrast, it surprised many that his sentence was 366 days with the possibility for it to be reduced with good behavior.
“You’ve increased that racial divide in the city,” Hall told Webber.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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