ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden fired back at St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner Thursday after members of her office accused two police officers of lying about an attempted carjacking and dropped the charges against the alleged suspect.
In an unusual move, Gardner’s Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Hinckley and Diversion Specialist Redditt Hudson hosted a press conference in which they presented surveillance video of an alleged carjacking attempt from March 19.
They accused the police department of not turning over investigative materials in a timely manner and said they went looking for surveillance video on their own.
The footage, Hinckley and Hudson claimed, contradicted the sequence of events the officers gave investigators.
“If not for police body-worn cameras and business security camera footage, the truth of this matter would’ve never seen the light of day,” Hudson said. “What our investigation revealed is a serious breach of trust in our city’s criminal justice system.”
Hinckley added: “This is the nail in the coffin. This case has been dismissed. And for good reason. I hope to never see something like this enter the Circuit Attorney’s warrant office ever again.”
The St. Louis Police Officers Association, the Ethical Society of Police and the attorney for the officers condemned Gardner’s office, saying the officer riding in the passenger side of the police pickup truck had a gun pointed in his face, and the officer in the driver seat’s quick thinking to speed away likely saved lives.
Hayden’s letter to Gardner comes two days after the press conference, saying: “The allegations made by Mr. Hinckley could be construed as a crime. In review of this material, and other pertinent documents concerning this case to include the police report, body-worn camera video, and the interview of [the suspect], we find no indication that our officers committed a criminal offense, nor were their statements intentionally misleading.
“Given the seriousness of the allegation of intentionally falsifying a sworn probable cause statement to your office, we respect the authority of your office to make prosecutorial decisions.”
Gardner's office issued a statement following Hayden's letter, which read: "In every case, the Circuit Attorney’s Office is dedicated to ensuring that the office carries out its duty to prosecute criminal cases in a manner that seeks justice rather than just convictions on behalf of the residents of the City of St. Louis."
Hayden has locked horns with Gardner before – but any tension between them has not been evident in recent years.
In February 2018, Gardner accused Hayden of refusing to investigate allegations that then-Gov. Eric Greitens took a compromising picture of his mistress without her consent.
Hayden called a press conference, and, in a fiery speech, denied ever doing so.