St Louis Police Officers Crash into Gay Bar, Owner Gets Arrested After Confronting Officers

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Bar PM
A still from the video shows a white police SUV traveling at high speed at night on an empty street before suddenly swerving and crashing into the bar. Twitter

Missouri police have sparked controversy after one of its officers crashed a police cruiser into a gay bar before arresting one of the co-owners – a married gay couple – who confronted the officer.

An attorney representing the couple is now demanding that the charges against his clients be dropped and is considering taking legal action against the St. Louis police department.

Police First Claimed Officer Swerved to Avoid Hitting Dog, Then Said it was to Avoid Parked Car

Javad Khazaeli, a St. Louis civil rights attorney, who represents the gay couple, Chad Morris and James Pence, spoke about the incident in an interview with The Advocate.

On Sunday night, two St. Louis City probation officers, a 32-year-old man and a 22-year-old man, crashed their police SUV into Bar: PM – an LGBTQ bar in St. Louis, according to a police spokesperson. After the owners confronted the officers, both were detained, and one was arrested.

Bar PM crash
The marked St. Louis police cruiser that crashed into Bar PM on Sunday night. Twitter

According to Khazaeli, initially officers claimed they swerved to avoid a dog but later changed their narrative, saying it was to avoid a parked car.

"Preliminary investigation revealed [the police car was] traveling northbound...when [the driving officer] believed he was traveling too close to a parked car and attempted to correct himself," the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement to The Advocate. "This action caused [the officer] to lose control of his vehicle and crash into the... building," the spokesperson added.

Khazaeli Shared Video Footage of the Crash on Social Media

Khazaeli shared video evidence of the incident on Twitter, suggesting the Department's explanations might be inaccurate. "Have you seen the video? I mean, I guess there's a car kind of off to the side, but it doesn't seem like they're even close to hitting it," he said.

The video shows a white police SUV traveling at high speed at night on an empty street before suddenly swerving and crashing into a building on the opposite side of the street. The car doesn't have an emergency light on.

"The police department has made no statements. They haven't told us if the officers were drug tested or alcohol tested," he said, highlighting a lack of transparency in the aftermath of the incident. He added that this issue is particularly pertinent in St. Louis, where there have been multiple cases of officers being found drunk while on duty.

"It's shocking because this should never happen to anybody. But it's not surprising because this is one more act in a long string of malfeasance by the police department," he said.

Morris was Allegedly Beaten by Police When He Questioned Husband's Arrest

Javad Khazaeli, Chad Morris and James Pence
Javad Khazaeli speaking to reporters outside court following the release of Chad Morris (middle), who is pictured standing alongside James Pence. Twitter

Morris and Pence were both detained without cause during the incident, he said, describing the police's approach as aggressive, including an officer threatening to leave the scene without filing a report unless Pence showed his ID.

When Pence questioned this, he was arrested for allegedly causing a disturbance, Khazeali said. Morris, who inquired about his husband's arrest, was later apprehended after attempting to leave the area and was allegedly beaten by the police. Khazaeli detailed Morris's injuries, including a black eye and scratches, and criticized the handling of his arrest.

Morris was charged with third-degree assault against a special victim and resisting or interfering with an arrest, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

Khazaeli confirmed that he had been in contact with authorities, who subsequently agreed to release Morris on his own recognizance and reduced the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.