Missouri officer fired after video shows him striking man
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A suburban St. Louis police officer was fired Wednesday after a video posted online appears to show him hitting a man with a police SUV, kicking and punching the man then arresting him.
Florissant Police Chief Timothy Fagan announced the immediate dismissal of Detective Joshua Smith at a news conference. No charges have been filed against Smith, a nine-year veteran of the force.
An attorney representing Smith said what happened was an accident. The department doesn’t have a police union.
“I have been an advocate against police abuse and misconduct my entire career,” Scott Rosenblum told The Associated Press.
“I believe what this detective did was simply an accident,” Rosenblum said.
He made a point of referring to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis as “clearly murder.”
St. Louis County police say the arrest happened around 11:30 p.m. on June 2 in Dellwood, Missouri. The events were captured by a resident’s doorbell camera and posted online by media outlet Real STL news.
The video shows the SUV driving fast at the man, striking him as he runs past a home. The uniformed officer gets out of the car and, as the man falls onto his back, the officer kicks at him then jumps on top of him, punching him then cuffing him.
All the while, the man being chased is shouting “OK” and eventually “help.”
Fagan said the man was treated at the hospital for an ankle injury. Fagan said he and others with him face charges for possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest.
Florissant Police Sgt. Craig DeHart said Smith is white, but that he wasn’t authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation, including the race of the arrested man.
A coalition of religious leaders and civil rights organizations demanded the detective’s termination after his suspension was announced over the weekend.
“I want to assure the citizens of Florissant and communities all around the country that that I have heard your concerns and demands for justice in this case,” Fagan said.
St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar’s office is investigating the arrest with the help of St. Louis County police and the FBI. A spokeswoman for Lohmar’s office, Leslie Knight, said there were no new updates.
A few hundred people gathered in front of the Florissant police station Wednesday, blocking the street.
Attorney Jerryl T. Christmas is representing the man struck by Smith and spoke at the protest, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He used a baseball analogy. “He got fired, so we’re on first base. But we haven’t scored,” Christmas said, calling for Smith’s arrest.
Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas.