Dr. Faisal Khan speaks to the St. Louis County Council on July 28.
St. Louis County's public health director is battling accusations that he lied about being assaulted and called racist slurs last week at a County Council meeting.
Dr. Faisal Khan wrote in a letter
to council Chair Rita Heard Days that he was surrounded as he left the chamber after pleading for a mask mandate in front of a hostile, maskless crowd.
"On more than one occasion, I was shoulder-bumped and pushed," Khan wrote in the letter. "As I approached the exit and immediately outside the chambers, I became surrounded by the crowd in close quarters, where members of the crowd yelled at me, calling me a 'fat brown cunt' and a 'brown bastard.'”
He said he lost his composure after the confrontations and flipped off his antagonizers as he left. But surveillance video obtained by KMOV
shows Khan walking past a crowd outside the chambers, seemingly without a physical confrontation. There is no sound in the video.
Another video filmed by KSDK
shows his walk up the aisle inside the chambers, and again there doesn't seem to be any shoving. There is a brief gap between the two videos, and Khan has continued to insist that the events he described in the letter are accurate.
“I completely stand by my assertions,” he said in an interview on Monday on St. Louis on the Air
after host Sarah Fenske asked about the footage. “One segment of one video, or whatever it may be, does not capture my experience that evening.”
In yet another video
, shot from the audience and posted by activist Umar Lee, Khan is walking away from the lectern when someone calls out something that starts with an f-word. It's hard to hear the last bit, but the video's description says that it was a racial slur. The reaction of those in the crowd indicated it was at least something bad, and Days followed up by warning that the council could have people removed.
At a council committee hearing on Monday, police from the county and Clayton who worked the meeting said they did not hear any racial slurs as Khan left and did not see anyone physically confront him, although one security officer told the committee people jeered Khan as he passed. One woman followed them to the elevator and told Khan he was rude for flipping them off, the officer said.
The contrasting accusations surrounding Khan's exit have quickly overshadowed the issues he came to the council meeting to discuss. With the surge of the delta variant in Missouri, the county and city had reimposed an indoor mask mandate. Khan told the council more misery and death would follow if precautions weren't taken now to slow the spread while the county works to get more people vaccinated.
Dozens of maskless opponents filled the audience and took turns at the public microphone to argue against the masks, including those who described County Executive Sam Page as a dictator, claimed Vitamin D was the real solution and a woman who encouraged the audience to scream, "We will not comply!"
The council ultimately voted 5-2 against the mandate, although Page has since said the council lacks the authority and the issue would likely be resolved by the courts.
On Monday, political opponents of Page and those fighting efforts to compel compliance safety measures to stop the COVID surge gleefully circulated videos of Khan exiting the chambers, claiming the footage proves he lied.
In the meantime, the city has asked anyone who was at last week's council meeting to quarantine after the discovery that at least one of those who attended has tested positive for the virus. Missouri remains one of the country's hot spots for the delta variant.
We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
- Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.