A federal judge sentenced a former St. Louis cop who brutally beat a Black undercover colleague he thought was a protester to four years in prison Tuesday (July 14). Randy Hays, 34, pleaded guilty in 2019 to using excessive and unreasonable force during a September 2017 incident where he and other officers attacked and arrested Luther Hall, who was undercover at a protest in response to a controversial court ruling.
Hall and his partner had been following a group of people who were damaging buildings and reporting their activity to an intelligence center, during a protest that broke out after a white officer was acquitted for fatally shooting Anthony Lamar Smith.
According to the complaint filed in civil court, when police arrived to break up the crowd, Hays and other officers stopped him, slammed him face-first into the pavement twice, and then punched, kicked, and attacked him with batons. Hall’s partner, who was white, was arrested but not beaten.
Hall suffered herniated discs, a rotator cuff tear, a bruised tailbone, a concussion and other injuries as a result of the violence, according to the Washington Post. Prosecutors read Hall’s written statement at Tuesday’s hearing, in which Hall said that the experience left him feeling withdrawn.
“I feel the same helplessness I felt the night of the assault, as I laid on the ground being beaten in the head, neck, and torso. The days I can’t sleep, I lay in bed in the dark and all I hear is the sound of my camera impacting the ground and voices of people yelling commands at me,” Hall wrote.
An attorney for Hall told the Washington Post that he won’t comment or have his legal team comment until the criminal cases are over.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Hays said he was “deeply sorry” for his actions. “I am a good person, but I made a mistake,” he said.
Hays was the first of three officers involved in the attack to be sentenced. A second officer, Bailey Colletta, was sentenced Thursday (July 15) to three years of probation for her role in the attack. Colletta pleaded guilty in 2019 to making a false declaration to a grand jury, in an effort to cover up the attack on Hall, the Washington Post reports.
Hall also said in his written statement that he has had three surgeries and multiple procedures due to his injuries, and will probably need more. ““The reality is I will live out the rest of my life in some degree of pain. Because of the [conscious] decision of Randy Hays and Bailey Coletta my physical being, mental health and overall life will never be the same. The decision of these officers has altered my career, professional and personal life,” he wrote.
The City of St. Louis agreed to settle Hall’s civil suit for $5 million last February.
(Photo: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)