Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

ACLU Sues St. Louis Police, Claiming Abuse of Protesters in 2015

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

ACLU Sues St. Louis Police, Claiming Abuse of Protesters in 2015

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * The ACLU filed its second federal lawsuit in a week claiming police violated the rights of people protesting a fatal police shooting in St. Louis.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of a St. Louis resident and two St. Louis County residents against St. Louis police, six unidentified officers and St. Clair County. It says that the three were protesting the death of Mansur Ball-Bey on Aug. 19, 2015.

Sarah Molina and Christina Vogel, both St. Louis County residents, fled from a peaceful, non-violent protest after police began using tear gas, the suit says. Vogel is also the daughter of a former St. Louis police officer. They heard police say "disperse," but the remainder of any warnings or commands were unintelligible, the suit says, and police didn't warn that they were going to use chemicals, they say.

Police in a SWAT truck, under joint command of St. Louis police and the St. Clair County Sheriff's office, shot tear gas and smoke canisters directly at Molina and Vogel 30 minutes later and three blocks away, when they were standing on the sidewalk and in the yard of Molina's house, the suit says. They claim police recognized the pair from the protest.

Peter Groce, of St. Louis, was biking home when he spotted the SWAT truck driving on the grass in Fountain Park and told police they should be in the street, the suit says. The officers retaliated with a tear gas canister that hit Groce's hip and pepper spray that hit his arm and shoulder, the lawsuit says.

All suffered physical and emotional damages, the suit says. Both Molina and Vogel skipped protests out of fear of police, it says.

Then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said at the time that police cleared protesters after bricks, water bottles and other objects were thrown at officers. Dotson said he also heard gunshots.

During the protests later that night, a tree, a car and a vacant house were set on fire, and a store was broken into.

The suit follows one filed by the ACLU last week over recent protests. …

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