ST. LOUIS – Yet another federal lawsuit was recently filed against the city of St. Louis over actions taken at a Sept. 29, 2017, protest following the acquittal of Officer Jason Stockley in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Plaintiff Crystal Brown, a resident of St. Louis County, claims that she was among a group of protesters who were pepper sprayed "without warning, without justification, and for punitive reasons" while Police Chief John Hayden looked on.
In her lawsuit filed Oct. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Brown claims she was not breaking any laws at the time of the protest, and was simply exercising her First Amendment right to question police use of a Taser on an elderly clergyman – Rev. Darryl Gray – that she claims was done without warning and with excessive force.
"An SLMPD (St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department) officer wearing an SLMPD baseball cap violently threw Rev. Darryl Gray to the ground breaking the reverend’s glasses," the suit claims. "Instantly, protesters began to voice their disapproval of the violent excessive force used against Rev. Gray. Up until that moment, the protest was both calm and rather quiet."
Brown claims that while protesters were questioning the use of force against Gray, officers began to chase protester Calvin Kennedy, who she claims was not being violent, as can be seen through video evidence.
She claims that without warning, she observed a police officer use a Taser on Kennedy while he was being grabbed by another officer.
She claims that Officer William Olsten can be heard antagonizing protesters, yelling at one: "Come and f*** me up then," the lawsuit states.
Two officers are observed on video trying to grab Olsten and calm him down, the suit claims.
"The only white shirt supervisor seen during the course of the video is Chief Hayden, who is seen standing approximately five feet to the right of Officer Olsten," the suit states.
Brown claims that while some protesters are observed harshly criticizing officers' "violent arrest and Taserings," Olsten was never in any danger and was not trying to extricate himself from a dangerous situation.
"Then, without warning, Officer Olsten pulls out a large fogger like canister of pepper spray," the suit states.
Brown claims that the pepper spray worked as intended as she began to feel "excruciating pain," her suit claims. "Her eyes began to burn. Mucus ran from her nose. Her breathing became labored."
Brown is represented by James Wyrsch and Javaad Khazaeli of Khazaeli Wyrsch of St. Louis.