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Testimony gets testy, emotional on 4th day of trial for St. Louis officers accused of assaulting Black colleague

Two former white officers are on trial for a second time for their alleged roles in the assault

ST. LOUIS — For a second time in a courtroom, St. Louis Police Officer Luther Hall relived the assault at the hands of his colleagues Thursday. This time, it included emotional and combative moments.

In all, five officers have been federally indicted for assaulting Hall, who was working undercover as a protester in 2017.

Two have already pleaded guilty. One was acquitted in March and that same jury returned partial verdicts in March for former officers Christopher Myers and Dustin Boone.

Federal prosecutors are retrying Boone and Myers this week.

Boone is accused of aiding and abetting in the deprivation of Hall’s civil rights — which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Myers is accused of tampering with evidence to impede an investigation for allegedly destroying Hall’s cellphone.

Hall paused to collect himself several times and his voice cracked Thursday when he recalled reuniting with his sleeping girlfriend when he got home from work that night and didn’t want to scare her with his swollen face.

“I told her, ‘Don’t freak out, I’m OK,’” Hall said.

Boone’s attorney, Patrick Kilgore spent the majority of his 15-minute cross-examination going through photos that showed where his client was standing.

Myers’ attorney, Scott Rosenblum questioned Hall for about four hours, mostly about differences in his testimony during this trial as opposed to the March trial.

In his opening argument, he told jurors Hall is a victim of trauma and not an “accurate reporter.”

Hall said Wednesday he did not carry his department-issued weapon because he didn’t want to get shot by the police because he is Black. 

Rosenblum noted how he did not give that reason when asked the same question during the first trial, in which he said he didn’t carry his weapon because he didn’t want to risk compromising his undercover status.

Rosenblum also said Hall began referring to the weapon used to damage his cellphone as an asp for the first time during this trial and he had called it a baton during previous testimony and statements.

Prosecutors have asserted Myers used an asp to break Hall’s cellphone.

“An asp is a baton,” Hall said repeatedly as Rosenblum asked him why he started referring to the weapon as an asp.

Hall interrupted Rosenblum when he referred to the protesters as “anarchists.”

“The people who I was running with at that point in the night were not part of the crowd I was referring to as anarchists,” Hall said.

Rosenblum then asked Hall if he told another officer, “I was running with the (expletive) and I was acting like a (expletive).”

Hall denied saying that.

Hall has told FBI investigators and testified that he believed former Officer Randy Hays took his camera off his neck and kneed him in the back while he was sitting handcuffed on the curb, but later said Myers is the one who kneed him in the back.

Hall said he misidentified Hays because Internal Affairs investigators laid out the photos of the officers incorrectly as he was identifying the officers who he believed assaulted him.

Rosenblum dropped his head in frustration as Hall offered the explanation.

Senior District Judge E. Richard Webber scolded Hall for offering explanations beyond Rosenblum’s questions.

“Please sir, please just answer the question without explanation. You have an extraordinarily competent lawyer who is going to go over all of this and you need to answer the questions.”

On redirect, Costantin asked Hall to again state why he didn’t carry his weapon on the night of the assault.

Hall said he was concerned he could get accidentally shot if the police perceived him as a threat if they found it and also didn’t want to risk a protester seeing it and blowing his cover.

She noted the photos only proved Myers was not standing behind Hall for 40 seconds — and Hall said he sat on the curb for five to 10 minutes.

The prosecution is expected to call its next witness Friday morning, and the judge has said the trial will stretch into next week.