A federal judge on Tuesday (July 14) sentenced a former St. Louis police officer who brutally beat a black undercover colleague he believed was a protester to four years in prison. Randy Hays, 34, pleaded guilty in 2019 to using excessive and unreasonable violence in an incident in September 2017 in which he and other officials attacked and arrested Luther Hall, which was undercover during a protest in response to a controversial court verdict.
Hall and his partner had tracked a group of people who damaged buildings and reported their activities to an intelligence center during a protest that broke out after a white officer was acquitted of the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.
According to the civil court complaint, when police arrived to disperse the crowd, Hays and other officers stopped him, hit him face first on the sidewalk, and hit, kicked and attacked him with batons. Hall's partner, who was white, was arrested but not beaten.
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Hall suffered a herniated disc, rotator cuff tear, bruised tailbone, concussion and other injuries as a result of the violence, according to the Washington Post. Prosecutors read Hall's written statement at the Tuesday hearing, which Hall said he felt withdrawn from the experience.
“I feel the same helplessness as I did the night of the attack, when I was on the ground and was hit on the head, neck and torso. On the days when I can't sleep, I lie in bed in the dark and all I hear is the sound of my camera hitting the floor and voices of people shouting orders at me, ”Hall wrote.
A Hall attorney told the Washington Post that he would not comment or allow his legal team to comment until the criminal case is completed.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Hays said he was deeply sorry for his actions. "I'm a good person, but I made a mistake," he said.
Hays was the first of three officers involved in the attack to be convicted. A second officer, Bailey Colletta, was sentenced to three years probation on Thursday (July 15) for her role in the attack. Colletta pleaded guilty in 2019 to making a false statement in front of a grand jury to cover up the attack on Hall, the Washington Post reports.
Hall also said in his written statement that he has had three surgeries and multiple procedures and will likely need more due to his injuries. “The reality is that I will spend the rest of my life in some degree of pain. Because of the (conscious) choice of Randy Hays and Bailey Coletta, my physical being, my mental health, and my general life will never be the same. The decision of these officials changed my career, work and personal life, ”he wrote.
The city of St. Louis agreed last February to settle Hall's civil lawsuit for $ 5 million.