A second video has emerged that appears to show a police SUV driven by a white suburban St. Louis police officer striking a black suspect and knocking the man to the ground as he screams out in pain.
Florissant detective Joshua Smith was fired on June 10, eight days after the arrest that occurred during protests and unrest over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Home security video posted online shortly after the arrest led to an investigation by a special prosecutor that is ongoing.
The new video, which was provided by attorneys for the man who was struck, offers a closer view and a different angle that shows the moment of impact. It also includes audio of the man screaming in pain after the SUV appears to drive across a front lawn and strike him.
“When you see the second video it’s clear that he intentionally ran into him and used the vehicle as a weapon,” the man’s attorney, Jerryl T. Christmas, said Wednesday. “It’s difficult to watch, and difficult to listen to the audio because of the way he’s screaming and hollering.”
Smith’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum, has said what happened was an accident.
The special prosecutor, Tim Lohmar, scheduled a news conference for late Wednesday morning. He did not specify in a statement that charges would be filed.
Florissant is just north of Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a white police officer in 2014 was a catalyst for the national Black Lives Matter movement. The St. Louis region has been the site of dozens of protests since Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.
Florissant Police Chief Timothy Fagan has said Smith was on duty the night of June 2 because of civil unrest in the area following protests. A day earlier, four St. Louis police officers were shot and a retired St. Louis police captain was fatally shot during a violent night in the city.
Officers were pursuing the vehicle occupied by three men because it had been seen near an earlier shots-fired incident, Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery said.
St. Louis County police said the arrest happened around 11:30 p.m. in Dellwood, another suburb near Florissant. The first video was from a resident’s doorbell camera and posted online by media outlet Real STL news. Christmas said the second video also came from a home security system.
It shows a car slowing on a residential street. Two men in the front seat jump out of the still rolling car, then a third man jumps out of the back seat.
The unmarked police SUV appears from behind the car and drives across part of a front lawn, striking the third man and knocking him onto the driveway. He immediately cries out in pain. An officer gets out of the SUV and appears to kick and hit the man on the ground as the man yells out, “OK! OK! OK!” and repeatedly says, “I don’t have nothing,” likely meaning he doesn’t have a weapon.
Christmas said police had no probable cause to follow the men in the first place and accused the officers of racial profiling.
Fagan said the man was treated at a hospital for an ankle injury. Christmas said his injuries were far worse, that the man’s leg was “shattered” and required multiple surgeries.
“He was traumatized,” Christmas said.
Fagan said police are seeking municipal charges for possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest against all three men. No weapons were found on the men or in their car.
In addition to Lohmar’s investigation, U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen said his office, the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice and the FBI also are reviewing the case to determine if a federal response is warranted.
Lohmar, speaking last week, called the video “shocking” but said it showed only part of the encounter.
“What I saw is not standard police work, it is not acceptable police work,” he said.
The arrest led to several peaceful protests outside of police headquarters in Florissant, including a “die-in” in which participants lay face down with their hands behind their backs. A few dozen protesters also gathered Monday outside Lohmar’s office urging prosecution of Smith.