ST. LOUIS –– As the city faces more civil rights lawsuits over treatment of protesters last year, one local attorney puts the blame on the heavy-handed police response.
Javad Khazaeli, an attorney with Khazaeli Wyrsch, is representing several individuals who claim police beat and pepper sprayed them for peacefully protesting following former Officer Jason Stockley's acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
"These people weren't breaking the law," Khazaeli told the St. Louis Record. "The police didn't want to hear verbal criticism. They will effectuate injuries, false charges and beatings just to get people to stop criticizing them."
Khazaeli pointed to one such incident on Sept. 29, 2017 when activists protested outside Busch Stadium after a St. Louis Cardinals game.
"What troubles me the most about the Busch Stadium incident is that this all began when a female member of the clergy, who was acting peacefully, began to get manhandled by police officers," Khazaeli said. "As soon as anybody complained verbally about it, they were slammed to the ground and beaten."
One individual was Tased and the police left the Taser barb in his arm for 24 hours without granting him medical attention, according to the River Front Times.
"This is a pattern of St. Louis police acting violently whenever there is a protest about them," Khazaeli said. "It doesn't happen if people are protesting other stuff, but the police have shown a pattern of beat-downs when people criticize them."