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St. Louis police officer subject of internal affairs investigation after newspaper prints op-ed piece

St. Louis police officer subject of internal affairs investigation after newspaper prints op-ed piece


ST. LOUIS — A police officer has been accused of misconduct after the Post-Dispatch published his description of a particularly violent shift. It included an impassioned plea to state officials to support police officers.

St. Louis police Officer Ryan Lynch wrote a Facebook post on Aug. 23 detailing a duty shift during which an armed 16-year-old led police on a chase that started in East St. Louis. He then wrote about a large fight that led to the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old after a football scrimmage at Soldan High School. Meanwhile, the procession from St. Louis University Hospital for an Illinois State Police trooper killed in the line of duty was being called out on the radio.

In his post, Lynch wrote that he arrested two at the football game and, just when he thought everyone had cleared the area, shots rang out.

“Next thing I know, I’m holding the hand of a 16-year-old as he begs me not to let him die. The 8-year-old wasn’t that lucky. The city gave us its worst tonight and I’m just appalled,” Lynch wrote.

“If you’re appalled as I am over the events this past summer, write your state politicians,” he continued. “We need backing here in the city. We need to be able to do our job fully. I’m tired of seeing dead babies.”

Lynch’s Facebook page is public, which means anyone can see it. The newspaper’s editorial page editor, Tod Robberson, asked Lynch for permission to publish an edited version of the post as an opinion item about a week later.

“It’s all too rare for the St. Louis public to read about these tragedies through the eyes of our first responders and to get a glimpse of the impact these horrific shootings have on the officers at the scene,” Robberson said.

Lynch’s attorney, Neil Bruntrager, and Police Chief John Hayden both declined to comment about the post. Police spokesman Sgt. Keith Barrett said the situation is a “personnel matter,” and the department does not comment on those matters.

On Aug. 29, Lt. William Brown of the internal affairs division accused Lynch of “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” according to a misconduct report obtained by the Post-Dispatch.

“It is alleged that Police Officer Ryan Lynch … prepared an article that was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Aug. 28, 2019,” according to the report.

Brown further alleges that Lynch violated the department’s special order forbidding employees from speaking to news media without proper authorization. “No information concerning confidential investigations or operations will be released without the expressed approval of the Police Commissioner,” Brown said in the misconduct report.

The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association filed a grievance Wednesday, saying, in part, that Lynch did not “prepare the article” for the newspaper and did not reveal any confidential information about any investigations. An employee’s political statements are statutorily protected, the grievance said.

It also mentions that Mayor Lyda Krewson liked on Twitter an excerpt of Lynch’s social media post.

Krewson was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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