A St. Louis circuit attorney has added 22 more police officers to a list of cops whose cases she won’t hear after a database exposed many of them for making racist Facebook posts.
Kimberly Gardner added the names Tuesday, June 18, following a review announced June 5 of more than 400 posts made by current and former officers in St. Louis, Missouri, by the Plain View Project.
In a letter sent to Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden Tuesday morning, Gardner said seven of the 22 officers are “permanently banned,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. That means Gardner’s office will not issue charges based on the officers’ probes, won’t apply for search warrants sought out by the officers and will not examine cases where the cops in question are essential witnesses.
As for the remaining 15 officers, a statement from Gardner’s spokeswoman said the attorney’s office will review their work “to determine conditions and reinstatement of their ability to present cases.”
Of of the 43 Facebook accounts linked to St. Louis police, 22 are tied to officers who are still employed, the watchdog group’s founder, Emily Baker-White, told the Post-Dispatch. The rest are former employees.
Among the posts from the current officers include a meme shared by Sergeant Ron Hasty in September 2017 that reads, “If the Confederate flag is racist, so is black history month.”
Officer Michael Calcaterra shared a meme in July 2013 of a laughing cop that said, “They said ‘f–k the police,’ so I said ‘f— your 911 call, I’ll get your dying homeboy when I finish my coffee.”
Gardner said in a statement that her office conducted “an extensive review” of the posts she described as “disturbing.”
“Police integrity is at the core of the community’s confidence in the criminal justice system,” Gardner wrote. “When a police officer’s integrity is compromised in this manner, it compromises the entire criminal justice system and our overall ability to pursue justice.
“After careful examination of the underlying bias contained in those social media posts, we have concluded that this bias would likely influence an officer’s ability to perform his or her duties in an unbiased manner.”
Gardner’s list of 22 follows her placing 29 officers on a so-called exclusion list as was solicited by St. Louis police Maj. Michael Sack last year. However, Chief Hayden denied Sack asked for the creation of such a list.
A spokesperson for Gardner said since then, there have been other officers put on that list, bringing the total of police whose cases she won’t hear to 59.
The business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, Jeff Roorda, slammed the decision.
“If these officers are determined to have engaged in misconduct, we have a process,” he told the newspaper. “There’s no due process in what Kim Gardner did today. It’s just panic at the disco.”
News of Gardner adding to her “expulsion list” comes during the same week that the Philadelphia Police Department has assigned 72 officers desk duty amid racist social media posts of current officers being exposed by the same watchdog organization. It is considered the largest removal of cops from the street in Philly’s recent memory.