The woman who says a St. Louis police union spokesman injured her during a public meeting about civilian oversight of the police department is filing an official assault complaint against him as her supporters ask him to step down.
Jeff Roorda, a former officer and Missouri representative who serves as the business manager for the police union, told the Guardian he won't apologize for grabbing and shoving Cachet Currie while attempting to push his way to the front of the city hall meeting. Roorda's actions, along with the "I Am Darren Wilson" bracelet he wore to the meeting, inflamed the already-tense hearing about police reform after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and led to a fifteen-minute skirmish in the meeting room.
Currie is filing a complaint asking for third-degree assault charges against Roorda, she announced through the activist group Organization for Black Struggle.
"Jeff Roorda physically assaulted me," Currie says in a statement. "Both of us are private citizens, and both of us are equal in the eyes of the law. That he believes that he has the right to hit me, to strike me, demonstrates that he still behaves like the worst police officers do. He doesn't get to hide behind the blue shield of invulnerability. If this is how he acts as a private citizen, imagine how he was as a police officer. If this is who police officers have chosen to represent them, imagine how they act on the street."
Roorda has said he is considering filing an official complaint of his own against Currie.
Currie's supporters, including the Organization for Black Struggle, point to Roorda's aggression as representative of the police brutality they're fighting against. Before last week's meeting turned into a brawl, attendees were testifying to the board of aldermen about establishing a civilian oversight board to review citizen complaints against police.
"This is what we've been facing here in St. Louis every time we have to interact with the St. Louis Police Department," says Kayla Reed, an activist with Organization for Black Struggle, about Roorda's aggression. Reed continues, "The legal system should hold him accountable by bringing the full force of the law down upon him."
The bizarre brouhaha started Wednesday night when Roorda yelled for order as a police officer's testimony against civilian oversight was drowned out by murmurs of dissent from the crowded meeting room.
When the committee's chair, Alderman Terry Kennedy, told Roorda not to "tell me my function," Roorda began to shove his way toward the front of the room, colliding into Currie and pushing her out of his way, according to online videos of the meeting.Currie said she suffered a head injury from Roorda's manhandling. A photo of Currie with a small abrasion on her forehead spread online Wednesday, and Currie says her glasses were knocked off her face and trampled.
This is the woman who was assaulted by Jeff Rooda. This is her injury from the president of the police association. pic.twitter.com/Fv5UJDtaoz— Alexis (@keenblackgirl) January 29, 2015
The Guardian asked Roorda if he would apologize to Currie.
"Oh God, no," Roorda answered. "No, no, no. The only apology owed is from the chairman of the committee (Kennedy), for letting things get so far out of control."Despite Roorda's battling against the civilian oversight board, it seems destined to pass, as St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay tweeted last week:
The city will soon have civilian oversight board. It will do an important job fairly. #fgs— MayorSlay.com (@MayorSlay) January 29, 2015
Police are investigating the brawl during the public hearing, and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office has subpoenaed video and audio recordings of the meeting from local media outlets, igniting a debate over freedom of the press:
Opponents who view a bill supported by a majority of aldermen (and me) as too strict or too lax misunderstand compromise. #fgs— MayorSlay.com (@MayorSlay) January 29, 2015
Correction: This story previously stated Cachet Currie was filing charges. Currie filed a complaint, and the circuit attorney will decide whether to file charges.