The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners has for years turned “a blind eye” to complaints of excessive force by officers, said a federal judge’s ruling quoted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the five years before a Marine Corps veteran alleges he was beaten by officers during an arrest in 2002, the department received 322 complaints of “physical abuse” but sustained only one, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber said.
In a pending case, Webber called the evidence is “sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that the (board is) deliberately indifferent to the risk that officers are using excessive force.” The quality of the board’s oversight was already in question over the department’s relationship with a company that held a lucrative contract to tow and impound cars. Police Board Treasurer Vincent Bommarito did not know details of Webber’s order but said, “Crime is down. We do a good job. There is no negligence of oversight, believe me.”