Ex-St. Louis Police Officer Beaten by Then-Colleagues Is Awarded $23 Million

A former police officer who was beaten by other officers while working undercover during a protest against police violence in St. Louis in 2017 was awarded $23 million by a Missouri judge.

Luther Hall, the former officer, won the default judgment on Monday against one of his former colleagues after the defendant failed to respond to a lawsuit over the 2017 attack, court records showed.

“Mr. Hall had to endure this severe beating, and while that was happening, he knew it was being administered by his colleagues who were sworn to serve and protect,” Judge Joseph Whyte of the St. Louis Circuit Court said at the hearing, according to KSDK, a local news station.

Mr. Hall, who is Black, was attacked during a protest in September 2017 that was organized in response to the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white police officer who killed a 24-year-old Black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, after a high-speed chase in 2011. The officers accused in the beating are white.

The acquittal led to days of demonstrations in downtown St. Louis, during which police officers used tear gas and pepper balls against protesters who were lobbing bricks and bottles at them.

Mr. Hall was not immediately available for comment on Thursday. Earlier in the week, he told the television station KMOV that he and his partner were embedded among the protesters and were assigned to arrest anyone they saw inciting violence or damaging property.

When a police officer ordered Mr. Hall to the ground, he began to comply, lifting his hands, but was “forcefully thrown to the ground twice, kicked, and hit by fists and police batons all over his body,” according to the judgment.

During the 2017 protests, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department lauded its officers on social media for showing “great restraint.” On Sept. 17, 2017, the night of Mr. Hall’s assault by his colleagues, the acting police chief, Lawrence O’Toole, told reporters that the city was safe and that the police had “owned” the night.

The assault left Mr. Hall with a concussion, injuries to his head and body, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Too disabled to work, Mr. Hall retired early after a 22-year career with the St. Louis Police Department.

Judge Whyte issued a default judgment against one of the officers involved in the attack, Randy Hays, who was among three officers prosecuted in a federal case filed in 2018.

Judge Whyte noted in his decision that after Mr. Hall was assaulted, Mr. Hays had sent a text message to another officer, saying that if the beating had been of a protester rather than a police officer, “it wouldn’t be a problem at all.”

The judge said that Mr. Hays’s speech and actions showed “complete indifference” to “an individual he believed to be an unarmed African American doing nothing wrong.”

Mr. Hays, who pleaded guilty in 2019 to a felony count of deprivation of civil rights, was served with Mr. Hall’s lawsuit in prison, but never responded.

Mr. Hall previously won a $5 million settlement in a civil case against the city of St. Louis. He also settled a lawsuit against a fourth officer, Bailey Colletta, for an undisclosed sum, according to his lawyer, Lynette Petruska.

In 2021, a federal judge sentenced Ms. Colletta to three years of probation and two consecutive weekends of imprisonment for perjury. According to the federal indictment, Ms. Colletta, who was in a romantic relationship with Mr. Hays at the time of the protests, provided false and misleading testimony to the grand jury, including a statement that the detective was “brought to the ground very gently.”

Mr. Hall has two separate claims pending against two other officers involved in the beating, Dustin Boone and Christopher Myers, Ms. Petruska said. The judge in the federal case sentenced Mr. Boone to one year in prison, while Mr. Myers was given a year of probation. Mr. Hall is seeking to collect an arbitration award against a fifth officer, Steve Korte, who was also indicted in the federal case but was later acquitted.

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