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St. Louis officer who hit a man at a gas station was accused of prior misconduct

St. Louis officer who hit a man at a gas station was accused of prior misconduct

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A St. Louis police officer under investigation for beating a man at a gas station last week has been previously accused of using excessive force.

A police commander accused Officer Brandin Neil of pushing two people to the ground in March at a downtown bar, according to department records obtained by the Post-Dispatch.

Neil came under the public eye on Aug. 8, when a surveillance camera inside a BP gas station caught him pushing a customer and then striking him with a pair of handcuffs. The customer, Bryan Boyle, said he was hit in the face and head and thrown to the ground. The police department launched an internal affairs investigation within an hour of the altercation, the records show.

“He abused his badge,” Boyle recently said. “He shouldn’t have it.”

Neil’s attorney, Brian Millikan, declined to comment. Neil has been on the force since 2017. He was featured in a March 2018 KTVI report about a recruitment program run by the Ethical Society of Police, a membership organization that mostly represents black officers. He also was highlighted in a May 2018 story in the St. Louis American, which pictured him working with children in a technology program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis.

The allegations of misconduct by Neil stem from incidents that occurred while he was off duty.

On March 26, Neil was off duty working a secondary shift at Wheelhouse, a bar at 1000 Spruce Street downtown, where he pushed two people down, according to the misconduct report. At the time, he was assigned to the department’s fifth district, in the northwest corner of the city.

Lt. William Brown filed an internal affairs complaint against Neil accusing him of “conduct unbecoming of an employee” about two months after the alleged encounter.

The internal records also add detail to the tussle between Neil and Boyle at the gas station.

Neil was off duty at 9:20 a.m. on Aug. 8, according to the report. Boyle told police that Neil did not identify himself as an officer, and that Neil began to shove and strike him with his fist while holding handcuffs.

Brown filed the internal affairs complaint at 10:08 a.m.

Police do not release the outcomes of internal affairs investigations, so it’s unclear whether Neil has been punished or exonerated for either incident. But both could violate department policy, which requires police officers to “maintain reasonable standards of courtesy” in their relationships with the public, according to the documents.

The gas station manager, Aamer Abusaid, said his family operates 22 stations throughout the city. The offices of the station where the alleged attack took place are adorned with pictures of the store’s owners standing alongside the city’s top brass at various ribbon-cutting ceremonies and other community events.

“We’re very supportive of the police,” Abusaid said. “But this guy was totally wrong.”

Boyle’s attorney, Evelyn Lewis, said Friday that she is “appalled” that Neil remains employed and that the circuit attorney’s office has not filed charges against him.

“If he is willing to do what he did to my client in broad daylight, in front of witnesses, cameras and everything else, imagine what he will do and what he has done behind closed doors when no one is watching,” Lewis said.

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