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5 more officers testify against former St. Louis police colleagues accused of beating undercover officer during protest

Defense attorneys suggested one of the officers who testified today is guilty of the crimes his client is accused of committing

Five more officers testified Tuesday against two former St. Louis police officers and one current officer on trial this week for beating an undercover colleague disguised as a protester in 2017.

All of them varied in their recollections of who was there on the night Officer Luther Hall was assaulted, what they saw and where they were.

Perhaps one of the most significant moments came when defense attorneys suggested Sgt. Joseph Marcantano was the one who kneed Hall in the back as he was sitting on a curb — not one of the officers on trial this week.

The day kicked off with more testimony from former St. Louis Officer, now FBI Agent, Uzoma Onwumere. He testified for about four hours between Monday and Tuesday. He said he saw former Officer Chris Myers using knee strikes and rapid punches on the lower part of Officer Hall’s body.

Hall was working undercover as a protester on Sept. 17, 2017, to document property damage.

Along with Myers, former Officer Dustin Boone and current officer Steven Korte are on trial this week for their roles in the attack.

Two other former officers, Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta, have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Onwumere said Hall’s arrest caught his attention because Hall was being so quiet during the struggle, and he focused his attention on Myers for 30 to 45 seconds.

Myers’ attorney, Scott Rosenblum, took Onwumere through dozens of photographs in which Onwumere insisted he could not identify any officers, including himself, in an effort to show how the assault Onwumere described Myers carried out on Hall was not captured by any videos or pictures that night.

In his closing, Rosenblum asked Onwumere if Myers dated his ex-girlfriend’s sister, and introduced Onwumere’s ex-girlfriend to a different man. Onwumere said he did, but added his ex-girlfriend eventually married Myers’ friend and he attended the wedding.

Sgt. Joe Marcantano took the stand after Onwumere, telling First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin he was “mortified” when he took Hall’s camera off of his neck and dropped it accidentally.

Rosenblum showed him a series of photos from the night in question, which showed Myers in front of Hall and Marcantano standing behind Hall when Hall was seated on the curb. He suggested Marcantano was the one who kneed Hall in the back, not his client Myers.

Officer Taylor Hosna also took the stand.

She told Costantin she didn’t see Hall’s arrest but said she saw an electronic device fall near her after it had been thrown and she could tell it was broken because it was in pieces. She also identified Korte’s voice and Hays’ voice on the audio from Hall’s cellphone.

She responded, “I do not recall,” to almost every question from defense attorneys, so they referred to her grand jury transcript in which she described the atmosphere the day after Hall’s arrest as that of a high school football team that had just won a big game.

That night also included a controversial technique known as kettling. Dozens of people — who have since sued the city — were arrested that night when police surrounded them, including a reporter. Costantin objected, saying she was concerned questioning Hosna about her statements would bring discussion about the kettling into the trial and she didn’t want that to happen.

District Judge Catherine Perry agreed, and Rosenblum discontinued his questioning.

Attorney John Rogers, who is representing Korte, then questioned Hosna about her closeness to Hays and Colletta, noting they sometimes double-dated. He went through a list of 14 officers' names asking if Hosna told them she identified Hays and Korte’s names after the government asked her to listen to the audio.

She told them she didn’t tell anyone.

“Is that what you expect us to believe?” Rogers asked her.

Former St. Louis Officer Zachariah Foltz followed Hosna on the stand. He now works as a deputy sheriff for the Howard County Sheriff’s Office.

He, too, identified Korte as a voice on the audio he heard from Hall’s cellphone.

The overflow courtroom where the public and reporters are allowed to watch the proceeding lost the audiovisual feed during the closing of Foltz’s time on the stand.

When it resumed about 20 minutes later, Officer Craig Schaefer was being cross-examined by Rogers, so it’s unclear what Costantin and Rosenblum asked him.

Schaefer was on the stand for about the last 40 minutes of the day.

After the court adjourned, prosecutors told the judge they could wrap their case tomorrow.

Perry said Rosenblum once told her defense attorneys he planned to call as many as 30 witnesses.

“Are you still planning to call 30 witnesses?” Perry asked.

“Not even close,” he said.