A 13-year veteran of the St. Louis County police force was suspended without pay Friday after being charged with second-degree assault for breaking a man's hand with his police baton.
County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Dawon Gore, 44, has not been at work since the April 21 incident at the North Hanley MetroLink station. Gore had been serving as an officer in the MetroLink unit.
"I want to make it clear that the department stands by our officers who are required to use force as we conduct our duties," Belmar said. "However, this alleged unprovoked use of force -- outside the bounds of department policy and without cause -- cannot be tolerated."
Belmar said the department first became aware of the matter on April 25 when the alleged victim, 24-year-old Pierre Wilson, called the department requesting payment for his medical bills. Through an investigation, county detectives uncovered the following alleged sequence of events:
- On the evening of April 21, Wilson approached Gore, who was on duty at the station. Wilson allegedly asked for help with a police matter.
- Gore apparently told Wilson to contact a police department closer to his home, an answer that upset Wilson. An argument ensued.
- As the verbal altercation came to an end, Gore allegedly charged Wilson from several yards away and hit him with his police baton.
- Gore then allegedly detained Wilson in the station's security office for an hour and a half, denying him medical care.
- Gore later took Wilson home.
"That’s part of the reason that this is so problematic," Belmar said. "After an hour and a half, the suspect [Wilson] was booked; the supervisor wasn’t called; a use-of-force report wasn’t done; a police report wasn’t completed; and this individual had a serious injury."
Belmar would not comment on whether Gore had excessive use of force complaints issued against him in the past. Gore was also an officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department from 1997 to June 2001. The department did not immediately have any information about his record with the SLMPD.
Belmar said cameras on the MetroLink platform captured part of the altercation. Private security guards under contract with Metro also witnessed part of the incident. Belmar said he doesn't know whether the guards reported anything to their supervisors. Metro would not comment and the company that employs the guards, Securitas Security Services, did not return a request for comment.
Belmar said investigators first presented the case to county prosecutor Bob McCulloch on May 6. McCulloch's spokesman, Edward Magee, said they were unable to file charges until they got Wilson's medical records. which the office received this week.
Magee said he can't remember the last time the prosecutor filed assault charges against a St. Louis County officer.
Gore is being held on a $3,500 cash bond. He did not immediately have an attorney listed.
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