Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta leave court in December 2018.
A St. Louis cop who once bragged about "going rogue" admitted today in federal court that he beat an undercover police officer, whom he mistook for a protester.
Officer Randy Hays, 32, was one of three city cops
who were charged last year with deprivation of constitutional rights for pummeling Detective Luther Hall on a night in September 2017 when police arrested more than a hundred people during demonstrations downtown. A fourth officer, Bailey Colletta, was also arrested for trying to cover it up.
Hall, who is black, and a partner, who is white, were embedded with protesters who had marched in the streets following the acquittal of ex-officer Jason Stockley on a murder charge in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
In a civil lawsuit, Hall says police fired on protesters with pepper balls, and he and his partner were separated in the ensuing chaos. A group of officers, including Hays, grabbed him, repeatedly slammed him to the pavement and began beating and kicking him, even though he was not resisting, he claimed. Hall told investigators
the officers "beat the fuck out of him like Rodney King."
Uniformed officers smashed his cell phone and broke a camera he had used to document the protests, he says. Hall suffered significant injuries, including a herniated disc in his spine, and has been unable to return to work.
The majority of people arrested that night were surrounded in a downtown intersection, a tactic known as kettling. The mass arrests have since sparked more than a dozen lawsuits, many with claims of abuse that mirror what happened to Hall.
Colletta, who was dating Hays at the time of the attack on the undercover officer, pleaded guilty in September
to making false statements, admitting she lied to a grand jury and the FBI. In building the case, FBI agents and federal prosecutors recovered a cache of damning text messages between Hays and other officers during the early days of the protests in which they gleefully chat about clobbering protesters.
At one point, Hays tells fellow officer and co-defendant Dustin Boone in the case that "going rogue does feel good," before reminding him to be careful of cameras. "So make sure you have an old white dude as a witness."
But Hay's texts took a different tone after they discovered they had beaten an undercover cop.
"Wasn't just us," Hays texted. "I don't like the beating the hell outta a cop, but the department put him in that spot, he could've announced himself at any time. And he wasn't complying. The camera thing is just ignorant, nothing we all haven't done and if it was a protester it wouldn't be a problem at all."
Hays, who is on unpaid administrative leave with police department, was set to go to trial on December 2 along with Boone and Officer Christopher Meyers, the third cop in the indictment. He is now scheduled to be sentenced on St. Patrick's Day by U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry.
Boone and Meyers have both pleaded not guilty and are still set for trial. Colletta is due to be sentenced on December 6.
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