ST. LOUIS – A lawyer representing the owners of an LGBT+ bar in south St. Louis alleges a police vehicle that smashed into his clients’ business earlier this week had run a red light moments before the crash.
Attorney Javad Khazaeli posted a security video to social media showing a police SUV running a stop light in the Carondelet neighborhood. The video is time-stamped just before 12:30 a.m. Monday. The camera filming the video is situated near the intersection of South Broadway and Nagel Avenue, which is near Bar:PM.
FOX 2 could not determine if the vehicle seen in the video is the same one that crashed into the bar along the 7100 block of South Broadway.
The crash itself happened around 12:30 a.m. as co-owner Chad Morris and another employee were closing up for the night.
Khazaeli shared surveillance video of the crash from a distance with FOX 2 after first posting it to Twitter. The video shows the police car swerve left moments after passing a parked car and crash into the bar about two seconds later.
An initial SLMPD crime summary report claimed that two St. Louis police probation officers, each with less than one year of experience, were heading northbound on Broadway. The driver lost control of the police vehicle, overcorrected, and crashed into the front facade of the bar.
However, James Pence, Morris’ husband and co-owner of the bar, said the officer behind the wheel told him that he tried to avoid a dog in the roadway and that’s what caused him to lose control and crash.
The police report claimed Morris confronted the officers, shouted profanity at them, and shoved an officer. Morris was arrested and initially charged with third-degree assault – special victim and resisting arrest. That assault charge was amended to a fourth-degree offense, which is a misdemeanor.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Col. Renee Kriesmann, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, held a virtual media briefing and addressed the conflicting stories over the crash.
She said that the officer behind the wheel admitted to being distracted before crashing into Bar:PM and was changing his in-car radio just before the collision.
In recent days, FOX 2 has been working to gather answers from police on questions regarding the crash, including whether the officers were given a toxicology test for alcohol and/or drugs and what the policy is for the department investigating crashes that involve fellow cops.
Kriesmann said no toxicology tests were taken after the crash, noting that “we are treating this incident in accordance with our policy, which states that drug and alcohol testing will be done with reasonable suspicion or following any critical incident.” She says the officer immediately expressed remorse for the crash.
Kreismann also mentioned that the cruiser that crashed did not have a dashcam. A vehicle inspection indicated the police cruiser was traveling below speeds of 40 MPH before the crash and decreased to low 20s before impact.