St. Louis Police Department Defends Officer Reversing Vehicle Into Protesters
The department claims protesters moved toward the car in a threatening manner during an arrest.
Footage from Sunday's (Sept. 17) peaceful protest in St. Louis has caught the attention of many after a unmarked patrol car was seen reversing into a large group of protesters.
River Front Times reports the incident happened at the end of a three-day march, where just over 2,000 people protested against the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockely. The ex-member of the St. Louis Police Department was on trial for the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was shot five times by Stockely after a suspected drug transaction and a high-speed chase. The case brought attention to the city three years before the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
The protest turned tense after police pulled over a man wanted on a first-degree assault. The driver was arrested, as was the passenger, for making terroristic threats. The arrest happened just feet away from the let-out of the protest. Another suspect was arrested for throwing a rock at a police officer and was placed in a blue Impala. The unmarked patrol car was then seen backing up into protesters without a warning.
No one was harmed, but the footage shares a dark similarity to the incident in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a woman was killed by a white supremacist who reversed his car into a group of protesters.
The department released a statement defending the officer's actions and accused the crowd of moving toward the car in a threatening matter. "The crowd started moving in a threatening manner towards the Impala, and because of road closures, the car could not go forward," the statement reads. "The officer driving the blue Impala backed down the street to safety."
Police arrested over 100 people during the protests after police cars were vandalized and storefront windows were damaged.