FLORISSANT, Mo. (KMOV.com) – The Florissant police officer involved in the now-viral violent arrest that was caught on camera has been criminally charged.
Online records said detective Joshua Smith was charged with two counts of assault, one felony and one misdemeanor, and one count of armed criminal action.
Prosecutors announced those charged in a Wednesday morning news conference.
The charges come two weeks after doorbell video showed the officer in an unmarked police vehicle strike an unarmed man and then take him to the ground.
“The moment he turned his headlights towards that individual, that became a 4,000 pound missile,” St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said.
The case is being prosecuted by authorities in St. Charles County due to a conflict of interest in Wesley Bell’s office
The charges are in relation to both the alleged assault with the police car and once the man was on the ground. St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar previously called the on June 2 video “shocking and disturbing.”
“Immediately thereafter the victim, you see is knocked down, he’s in tremendous pain and he’s screaming. He gets up and he tries to run away and realizes he can’t do that. So he falls in the yard, which is just about six feet away from the point of impact. And he’s on his back and you see officer Smith- before he tries to apprehend the victim- he kicks him and later strikes him,” Lohmar said during a press conference Wednesday. “That would constitute the misdemeanor assault charges that we have filed.”
The incident took place on June 2, but Florissant Police Chief Tim Fagan said he found out about it days later, on Saturday. Fagan said three men were chased because the car they were in matched the description of a vehicle wanted for a shots fired call coming out of Ferguson.
In the initial report, officers wrote that Smith tried to avoid the man.
“The video evidence just proves that was patently false, that didn’t happen that way,” Lohmar said.
In Missouri, there is a legal loophole that means officers cannot be charged with falsifying events in reports.
Smith was fired last week. The other officers in the car remain on leave. Fagan said he does not believe those officers did anything wrong but is continuing to investigate.
Scott Rosenblum, Smith’s attorney, said in a statement last week, “I believe what this detective did was simply an accident.” He has not yet commented on Wednesday’s charges, but did say Smith had already been booked and released.
News 4 has learned Smith has been with the department for nine years and court records reveal he has been sued twice.
In 2017, he was sued by a man who said the detective, along with other officers, used excessive force during a traffic stop. The man claimed the officer rammed his vehicle with his patrol car before he was pulled out and assaulted. That case is still pending.
In 2013, the family of a Florissant man sued the officer and the department, claiming the officer shot and killed their son. Court documents assert the department tried covering up the shooting as a suicide. That case was dismissed.
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