Monday, December 6, 2010

UMSL Police Beat Student In Millennium Center

On November 17, campus police at UMSL severely beat UMSL student and radio host Brian Massey. The UMSL Current reported on the story:
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Brian K. Massey, a University of Missouri-St. Louis student, was arrested near The U radio station in the Millennium Student Center. According to UM-St. Louis Chief of Police Forest Van Ness, Massey, who is an employee of The U, was charged with felony assault of a police officer and three other misdemeanors including resisting arrest.

Bob Samples, associate vice chancellor of Advancement for Communications at UM-St. Louis, said that the incident began when three officers responded to “a call about a student in crisis at the radio station in the Millennium Student Center.”

According to Justin Collins, senior, studio art, who was with Massey when the incident occurred, the student in crisis was a young woman who volunteered for The U, with whom “Brian had had a falling out.”

“She had already worked her shift that day and came back up [to The U] to do something,” Collins said. “Her clothes were all messed up and she seemed drunk and was staggering.”
According to this story and to Massey, a man who was with the girl told Massey (who was sitting nearby) to leave the center, and when Massey said no the guy apparently called the police. That's when things got bad:
During the response, the lead officer observed an individual whose presence elevated the anxiety of the student in crisis. Building and radio station officials asked the individual to leave the area. When he refused, two officers were asked to intercede,” Samples said. “The individual was not cooperative. In the process of determining identification, the individual in question grabbed the arm of an officer. The officer advised the individual that he was under arrest for assault.”

Van Ness said the student complied when asked for identification, providing both a state ID as well as his UM-St. Louis student ID. “But as the officer walked him out he grabbed the officer’s wrist and tried to remove documents from officer’s possession,” Van Ness said. The student was then told he was being placed under arrest.

“There was resistance on part of the student to avoid full incarceration,” Van Ness said. “We used prudent professional techniques that are used to force compliance on part of the noncompliant party. In this instance because everyone was so close to everybody we couldn’t deploy pepper mace. We were forced to put hands on the student to control his behavior, to apply striking blows to soft tissue areas.”

Van Ness said that the officers first used knee strikes to the outer area of the student’s thighs. The knee strikes were deemed to be ineffective. “At that point we did strike student several times in the thigh area with closed fist,” Van Ness said. “As soon as the student stopped resisting, all our force stopped,” Van Ness said. He believes the officers acted appropriately and are still in the process of receiving statements.
However, the police description does not match what witness Justin Collins said:
Collins said that when Massey was asked by the police to leave, he demanded to know what was going on and was then placed under arrest. Massey had “one hand in the air and one behind his back,” Collins said. “When the cops said stop resisting, Brian said, ‘I’m not resisting I’m just trying to talk.’”

According to Collins, as Massey was being escorted away he locked his knees and an officer tried to throw him on the floor. That officer, Collins said, fell along with Massey and “started punching on his head and his body and kneeing him. Another cop gave him a few stomps and a few kicks, they said stop resisting the whole time and Brian was screaming for them to stop. It wasn’t like [Massey] was kicking or flailing, he was mostly trying to protect his head.”

“It was pretty chaotic,” Collins said. “They beat him for a long time. One cop punched Brian repeatedly, had to stop and catch his breath, and then punched some more.”
Collins had more to add on facebook:
About 5 something p.m. November 17 UMSL police attacked an African American male student that looks to be in his mid 40's he also volunteers for the UMSL Radio Station. He was brutally attacked for simply asking why he was been harassed. He was then arrested he was never given the chance to know anything before being cuffed dragged into a secluded hallway and beaten meaning stood on top of, stomped, kicked, punched in the face, head, body, and hit with elbows. At one point one of the cops got tired and took time to catch his breath before starting the punching session again all while the victim is cuffed on the floor belly down with his face shoved against the floor and wall. Several cops were at the scene but none intervened. The whole incident started over a verbal dispute between an intoxicated UMSL student and radio station volunteer (female) an altercation that happen earlier that day. Another volunteer at the radio station became irate because the guy that was beaten would not go home because he and the drunken woman were at school at the same time. That volunteer made a call to campus police and told them something that for some reason made them angry and that’s what kick things off like this mans head. I’m sure there were at least 70-witnesses employees, students, and passerby’s. I was a witness from beginning to end and it angered me so much that I took a whack at a file cabinet fracturing my hand. I was so upset that I wasn’t able to do anything but plead for them to stop which didn’t work at all I think it wasn’t until they saw the angry mob of people getting dangerously close to attacking them that made them stop. Way to go UMSL PD at least the two chumps that did this. We really feel safe…
I've met Brian several times at the radio station, and he's always been incredibly nice and helpful. He does not at all strike me as the kind of person who would be violently resisting arrest. Also, I have to add, that it sure seems to me that as a campus police officer, you should do everything you can to avoid beating up a student at your university. Even on the police officer's version of events, it seems obvious to me that this did not happen. But right now the details are murky and the only reporting that has been done on this was a short story in the UMSL student newspaper. I really hope someone gets to the bottom of this.

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