Circuit Attorney Loses Faith in City Cops; Will No Longer Prosecute Cases

St. Louis prosecutor says she will no longer accept cases from 28 city police officers

Circuit Attorney Loses Faith in City Cops; Will No Longer Take Their Cases
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner details her hopes for the city after taking the oath of office.

There are only a few bad apples they claim. But the sheer number of reports beg to differ. Precincts around the country are rife with corruption, bad apples, rotten eggs and more. If one bad apple spoils a bunch as the saying goes, than the whole bushel needs to be thrown out. That is why the St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has decided to no longer accept cases from 28 city cops. Rampant corruption and credibility issues abound in the St. Louis Police Department (SLPD).

Gardner needs to take it one step further and completely cleanse the department. Circumstances have shown the integrity of the officers is questionable at best. According to her, cases the officers have handled are being reviewed for “viability”.

The SLPD was handed an “exclusion list” by Gardner Tuesday outlining which officers the circuit attorney officer would no longer accept cases from. She also issued a written statement explaining the importance of credible officers in the criminal justice system.

Circuit Attorney Loses Faith in City Cops; Will No Longer Take Their Cases
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner

“A police officer’s word, and the complete veracity of that word, is fundamentally necessary to doing the job. Therefore, any break in trust must be approached with deep concern,” the statement said.

City leadership has declined to comment on the exclusion list drawn up by the circuit attorney. This happens to be the latest in a series of standoffs between Gardner and the city’s law enforcement.

Since taking office, more than two dozens lawyers have quit her office. One of the main reasons for the mass exodus is staffers’ discomfort with the role a former political campaign advisor is playing in the circuit attorney’s office.

Sgt. Keith Barrett spoke on behalf of Police Chief John Hayden saying:

“The police division did receive an exclusion list created by the Circuit Attorney’s Office. While we are seeking legal guidance on how this affects the police division, we have also taken steps to notify each of the involved employees. At this time, we are considering how best to proceed and what if any actions to take. Any further inquiries should be directed to the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said the city leadership had no comment to offer.

The St. Louis Dispatch did get their hands on an email issued by the police chief after receipt of the exclusion list. Chief Hayden instructed his leadership to remind the officers listed to continue to do their jobs and “perform their responsibilities as outlined in all established policies and procedures.” The chief was in talks with the legal department to see what effects the list would have and how the department would be impacted.

Another email instructed the listed officers to contact the circuit attorney office and speak with Maj. Michael Sack if they have any concerns about their duties. Sack oversees the Bureau of Professional Standards.

Sack quoted Hinckley’s email as saying, “warrant applications involving officers (sic) as essential witnesses will be refused if their participation is essential to the successful prosecution of the case. Cases previously issued where the above officers are essential witnesses will be reviewed for viability.”

The exclusion list has not been circulated outside of the circuit attorney office, the police department, and the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association (SLPOA).

SLPOA business manager, Jeff Roorda, said the named officers account for 2.5 percent of the department’s 1,180 commissioned officers, and about 5 percent of front line officers.

“I’m not going to speculate about the Circuit Attorney Office’s motivations for this,” Roorda said but he added that the union was surprised and alarmed.

According to Roorda, some of the cops made the list because they chose to plead the fifth in cases where Gardner’s office was reviewing police conduct while prosecuting the person shot. In one case, Gardner reportedly dropped the charges because an officer refused to testify without a guarantee of immunity.

But why would an officer need immunity if everything was done by the books? “Why would you not answer the question if you don’t have anything to hide?” Kristi Flint, a St. Louis defense lawyer said.

Roorda declined to speculate why others made the list. He claims no one was told why the officers made the list. He did say that the circuit attorney office did not afford the officers their due process before being placed on the list. The office failed to make a specific disciplinary finding instead opting to go with emotions.

The 28 cops listed are linked to hundreds of cases.