An activist who resigned from the St. Louis Police Board in 2001 because of a 1973 arrest for punching a police officer now works for city Prosecuting Attorney Kim Gardner.
Khatib Waheed was hired March 20 as a diversion manager. The job carries a $45,000 annual salary and a 30-hour weekly workload, Gardner said in a statement. The salary is paid through a U.S. Department of Justice grant.
Gardner said in her statement that she was aware of Waheed's history.
"I’m also very familiar with the work he has done in this community over the past 20 years to make St. Louis a more fair and just place for all people," she said. Waheed has worked as a community organizer and has given presentations to law enforcement on racial bias.
"Everyone makes mistakes," Gardner continued. "It’s a part of what makes us all very human."
Waheed's job includes helping non-violent, low-level offenders stay out of jail or prison "by providing them support and resources to become contributing members of society," the statement said.
In December 2001, Waheed resigned from the St. Louis Police Board after his arrest record came to light.
At the time, the Missouri governor appointed members to the police board. Then-Gov. Bob Holden never said if he had been aware of Waheed's assault arrest when he appointed him.
Kansas City Police Department files show that Waheed was arrested on July 3, 1973, and charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer.
At the time, Waheed was a student at Rockhurst College and was using his birth name, Robert Foxworth Jr., before converting to Islam several years later.
Waheed is no relation to Maurice Foxworth, Gardner's transition adviser, a spokeswoman for Gardner said.
When the issue first caused a stir in 2001, Waheed, who is black, said the incident began after a traffic altercation that he and friends had with white youths in another car. The two sides fought, and then police showed up with guns drawn. He said one officer grabbed him and used a racial slur.
"I threw a left. It connected with his chest," Waheed said in 2001. "Then we tussled and more police showed up."
The St. Louis Police Officers Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, opposed Waheed's appointment in 2001.
But one officer involved in the issue at the time was not opposed, Lt. Greg Wurm, president of the St. Louis Police Fraternal Organization, which represents senior officers.
"If I was judged on a thing I did 28 years ago," Wurm said in 2001, "I might not be where I'm at either."