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By Doha Madani
Four police officers from St. Louis were charged on Thursday for beating a police officer under cover during violent protests in the Missouri City after the acquittal of a former white police officer after the shooting death. a black man.
Three officers, Dustin Boone, 35, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, face charges of constitutional deprivation and hindering justice.
Bailey Colletta, 25, an officer who had a romantic relationship with Hays, was charged with making misleading statements and misrepresentations to a grand jury in an attempt to obstruct justice. The four officers were suspended without pay, according to the Associated Press.
The four were working in the civil disobedience department team in September 2017 when protesters took to the streets after former officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of first degree murder and assault. 39, armed criminal acts upon the death of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
During the demonstration, Boone, Hays and Myers allegedly kicked and allegedly used a riot stick against the undercover agent who, in their view, was a protester, according to a press release from the Ministry of the Interior. United States Justice.
The victim, identified only as "L.H.", was a 22-year-old departmental veteran who documented any criminal activity during the demonstrations and "did not pose a physical threat to anyone," prosecutors said.
The indictment stated that the text messages exchanged between Boone, Myers and Hays prior to the demonstrations showed widespread contempt for the protesters and enthusiasm for the use of "unjustified force".
"It's going to be IGNORANT tonight," Boone wrote in a message. "But it will be very fun to beat these shead theads once the sun has set and no one will be able to tell us apart !!!"
Another message, written by Hays, said: "Remember, we were in the south of the city, they support us, but also cameras, so make sure you have an old white guy as a witness."
Prosecutors say the police destroyed the mobile phone's undercover agent and conspired to obstruct justice after the attack.
"These are serious charges and the vigorous enforcement of civil rights is essential to maintain public confidence in law enforcement," US District Attorney Jeffrey Jensen said in a statement. Missouri, adding that the St. Louis Police Department The importance of this investigation and its leaders have cooperated at any time. "
Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, who provides legal representation for the four officers, said in a statement: "We encourage elected officials, the media and the public to allow them to appear in court without speculation as to their fate, guilt or innocence.
NBC News could not immediately find the attorneys representing the officers.
Associated press contributed.