ST. LOUIS — “N-words are running wild in the city…and they don’t get in trouble because we have plate lips in the (Circuit Attorney’s Office).”
“It’s still a blast beating people that deserve it.”
These were among a series of text messages federal prosecutors read before a jury Friday weighing whether to convict two former white St. Louis police officers who have been accused of assaulting a Black colleague who was working undercover during a protest.
Former Officer Dustin Boone faces the most serious charge, depriving Det. Luther Hall of his civil rights. It's a charge that could result in 10 years in prison. And it was him that used the racial slurs in his texts.
Christopher Myers has been charged with tampering with evidence to impede an investigation for allegedly destroying Hall’s cellphone, which captured part of the assault.
It is the second time the officers are on trial. The texts were not part of the first trial that resulted in partial verdicts against them in March.
And they might be the most solid evidence against Myers and Boone, given that hours of testimony and questioning of several witnesses so far has resulted in mixed interpretations of who can be seen doing what on the night of the assault.
Sgt. Joseph Marcantano is among those witnesses who interpreted the images differently than others. He spent most of the day on the stand testifying for the prosecution.
Myers’ attorney, Scott Rosenblum, tried to say the photos show Marcantano was the one who kneed Hall in the back while he was sitting on the curb in flex cuffs. Marcantano said the photos showed a different officer did it.
Hall has accused Myers of kneeing him in the back as well as removing his camera from his neck.
Marcantano said he was the one who removed the camera from Hall’s neck, even though Hall said he believed Myers removed it from his neck.
Rosenblum focused heavily on the differences in the recollection of the witnesses of what happened that night and insinuated Marcantano cooperated with federal investigators because he was afraid he would get in trouble for his role in the assault – a claim Marcantano denied.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin asked him how he felt when he said he accidentally dropped Hall’s camera after taking it off his neck.
“I panicked, I was mortified,” he said.
She also had Marcantano recall a conversation he had with Myers at a gas station the day after the assault in which “Myers said, ‘It's (expletive), the cellphone is one me. I'll own what I did but I wasn't the one who (expletive) him up."
"I was shocked by his admission,” Marcantano recalled.
Rosenblum tried to poke holes in Marcantano’s statement by noting how he recalled his client’s words from that conversation more than two years after he said them to him and during an interview with the FBI.
The day ended with an FBI photographer who synchronized Hall’s cellphone video of the night alongside footage captured by police surveillance cameras.
The trial is expected to last for another week.