St. Louis officer used excessive force, racial slurs in arrest, department says

2013-02-26T05:30:00Z 2014-10-24T14:27:22Z St. Louis officer used excessive force, racial slurs in arrest, department saysBY JOEL CURRIER jcurrier@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8256 stltoday.com

ST. LOUIS • Suspended St. Louis Patrolman Charles Proctor disgraced the department and should be fired for striking a man with a baton, choking him and slamming his head into the bumper of a squad car outside the Lumière Place Casino last summer, a police department lawyer said Monday.

The lawyer, Jessica Liss, made the argument against Proctor on the first day of a disciplinary trial to decide if the officer should be reinstated.

Liss says Proctor used excessive force, racial slurs and obscenities while arresting handcuffed trespassing suspect Jermaine Lacy at the downtown casino in July.

"This officer brought discredit upon himself and the department," said Liss, a private lawyer hired to represent the department in the proceedings.

But Proctor's lawyer, Chet Pleban, says Lacy faked his injuries and now wants to profit from a lawsuit he has filed alleging police brutality.

"The acting that this star witness did was better than Daniel Day-Lewis in 'Lincoln,'" Pleban said referring to Sunday's Oscar-winner for best actor.

After the incident at the casino, police arrested Proctor on suspicion of assault. But St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce refused to file criminal charges against him.

Proctor, 40, was suspended from his job in October. He is fighting a recommendation from the police department's internal affairs division that he be fired.

Proctor was assigned to the 4th District, which includes the casino. He has been on the force about nine years.

Judy Ronzio, an independent hearing officer, will make a recommendation to the Board of Police Commissioners after the hearing, which is expected to last several days.

Proctor has denied assaulting Lacy, 36, during the arrest.

Proctor and another city officer were called to Lumière about 2 a.m. July 5 to help the Missouri Highway Patrol arrest Lacy for trespassing after Lacy got into a dispute with another gambler.

Video of the incident was shown publicly for the first time at Monday's hearing. The video shows Lacy trying to run from security and tripping on the sidewalk outside the casino.

Surveillance cameras inside the casino recorded the exchange between Proctor and Lacy from several vantage points. Proctor can be seen planting Lacy into a wheelchair and grabbing him by the neck while officers wheel him backwards through the casino and out the front doors. Lacy, who had one arm handcuffed to the wheelchair, can been seen squirming as officers escort him through the doors.

The footage outside the casino shows Proctor stopping the wheelchair behind a patrol car and shoving Lacy's head into the bumper.

Proctor is also accused of striking Lacy once in the shin with his baton in a Missouri Gaming Commission office before wheeling him outside. There was no video shown from inside the office but Charles Mellor, a casino paramedic and security guard, testified Monday that he saw Proctor strike Lacy while the suspect was handcuffed to the wheelchair. Mellor said a highway patrol sergeant and fellow city patrol officer also were present.

St. Louis Police Sgt. William Brown, deputy commander of internal affairs, testified Monday that Proctor's report on the incident failed to mention any physical contact with Lacy.

"That information was not in the report," Brown said.

Brown said Proctor denied assaulting Lacy. Brown said the officer told him Lacy was stiffening his body, trying to slide out of the wheelchair and faking being injured.

Lacy, who is expected to testify Tuesday, told the Post-Dispatch in July that he taunted Proctor during the arrest about being obese. Lacy acknowledged having a big mouth and a gambling problem.

Lacy said he was banned from Lumiere as a condition of probation on a 2010 trespassing conviction. He has sued the casino since the July incident, claiming it was negligent for letting him enter.

In addition to the trespassing conviction, Lacy also has a 2001 conviction for statutory rape.

Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Joel Currier is a breaking news reporter for STLtoday.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter here: @joelcurrier.

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