Former Belleville man files complaint alleging East St. Louis police officer beat him
Nearly a month after Jaylen Lacey returned home to help his mom move from Belleville to Fairview Heights, what was supposed to be a fun afternoon turned into a traumatic experience that left Lacey, his mom and his friends gutted.
Lacey alleges an East St. Louis police officer severely beat him during a March 14 arrest.
“The whole situation has just been a nightmare,” Patricia Lacey, Jaylen’s mom, told the BND. “My son was bleeding like a slaughtered pig, because I went to the scene, and I was just trying to find out what was going on. They wouldn’t tell me. My son’s face, I couldn’t even tell who it was because of how bloody his face was and (how) his clothes looked. All of it is just a nightmare.”
On March 18, Jaylen Lacey filed an official complaint against the East St. Louis Police Department.
“I can barely see out of my left eye,” Lacey, 22, said in an interview with the BND. “I have a headache. My breathing has been way louder because they broke my nose. They almost fractured my jaw. I needed stitches in my left eyebrow. I needed stitches along my nose too.”
In a joint statement issued March 17, East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry and East St. Louis City Manager Carlos Mayfield confirmed the incident involved two officers and that the department is investigating it. They did not name the officers involved.
“The investigation will take into account all evidence and testimony from the citizens involved, as well as feedback from any witnesses to the arrest,” the statement read. “Our office takes matters such as this very seriously, and when the internal investigation concludes, we will provide evidence and an additional statement to the public.”
The city said no additional information will be released until the end of the investigation, including police reports and other evidence.
‘I could see blood dripping from my head'
On March 14, he had planned to return to his mom’s home to repair a car after hanging out with his friends at Pop’s, a liquor store located at 8308 State Street in East St. Louis.
Instead, this is his account of what happened, based on the complaint he filed with the police department and interviews with the BND:
Lacey said he was sitting in the passenger seat of a white Jeep Cherokee SRT parked outside of Pop’s around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 14, when an unmarked Dodge Charger parked on the driver’s side. He said neither he nor anyone else in the Jeep knew it was the police because the car didn’t have any lights and the officer didn’t identify himself.
Feeling concerned, the driver of the Jeep started to leave the parking lot of Pop’s, according to the complaint. Then, another unmarked Dodge Charger struck the passenger side of the Jeep, pushing it into oncoming traffic and hitting its rear tire, according to the complaint.
The Jeep was able to come to a complete stop after the collision with the unmarked car and made a right turn on 88th Street. The unmarked car drove into the other lane of the street when Lacey and his friend in the driver’s seat noticed a marked police car, so they decided to pull over, according to the complaint.
That’s when the officer in the marked police car approached the driver’s side of the Jeep and pulled the driver out of the vehicle, Lacey wrote in the complaint.
Lacey said in the complaint the officer in the unmarked vehicle went to the passenger’s side of the Jeep with a gun pointed at Lacey through the front glass. Lacey said he had his hands up when the officer opened his door. Lacey said the officer began to punch him repeatedly with his right fist and eventually laid on top of him while elbowing him in the head.
He said the officer wasn’t wearing a police uniform nor a badge.
“I could see blood dripping from my head falling into the seat of the console,” Lacey wrote in the complaint.
The officer, after seeing other officers pull up to the scene, put Lacey in handcuffs, lifted him out of the Jeep and laid him on the ground, according to the complaint.
Lacey said he didn’t learn of why he and his friend were being arrested until he was in a cop car that took them to the East St. Louis Police Department’s holding cell. He said they were told they were drag racing in the area, a claim that he denies.
Talmage Chandler, of Belleville, is a friend of Lacey’s who said he was also in the Jeep when it was parked at Pop’s. He said he noticed the unmarked car parked next to the Jeep.
Chandler said he got out of the Jeep to wait on friends to get off work and went inside Pop’s. Chandler said some of the friends were planning to hang out in St. Louis later in the day. Pop’s is a popular hangout spot for the group of friends, according to Chandler.
Chandler said after he got out, the Jeep pulled away. He said he and another friend saw the initial collision between the Jeep and the unmarked car. He said he heard about police pulling over the Jeep after the collision from the walkie talkie of another officer who was still at Pop’s at the time.
Approaching the scene
Chandler said he thought Lacey was dead when he saw him in handcuffs at the scene.
“As we pulled up, my heart dropped seeing Jaylen,” Chandler, 23, said. “He was laid on his side, he had his hands cuffed behind his back. His head was hanging, and his face was completely bloody. In my head, I had thought they killed him. His face was completely bloody to where you couldn’t see his skin color on his face, so I told my boy to pull over and I had called Jaylen’s cousin to call his mom because they need to get down here.”
Justyn Wilborn, Lacey’s cousin who’s also from Belleville, went to the scene shortly after receiving that call. He said he arrived around 3:45 p.m. and tried to take video on his phone, but he said police were trying to take his phone out of his hand.
“As I pulled up to the scene, I saw the cop cars and the Jeep truck,” Wilborn, 21, said. “I saw my cousin who they grabbed and handcuffed. I saw blood all over his face. Then, that’s when paramedics were at the front. I saw one police officer, a big tall one, walk up to the paramedic truck and get his hand taped up ...
“I saw my other friend in the back of the police car. I think they had just put him in there. That’s when I walked up and they told me to get on the other side of the street. My aunt pulls up and the paramedics walk up to my cousin on the ground. They wiped his face and they said he didn’t need stitches or none of that at the scene.”
Wilborn’s aunt, Patricia Lacey, said she didn’t understand why her son Jaylen wasn’t receiving more medical attention when she pulled up to the scene.
“I was wondering, ‘OK, why isn’t the paramedic checking him out because obviously something is wrong,’ ” Patricia Lacey said. “I didn’t know what happened. They put him in the back of the police car and the paramedics basically just looked at him, barely cleaned his face off and he’s plainly injured and they just took him in the back of the police car and took him to jail.”
The driver and Jaylen Lacey were taken to East St. Louis’ holding cell. Lacey said in an interview that his requests for medical attention were ignored. Lacey said he was feeling nauseous and dizzy because of his injuries that went untreated until his mom pleaded with officers to take him to the hospital. Lacey was eventually taken to Touchette Regional Hospital in Cahokia Heights and later returned to the holding cell.
Lacey said he was released from jail on March 15 and was not charged with anything.
Lamont Kollore, the father of the driver, said his son was released on March 16 and also was not charged. Kollore said his son declined to be interviewed by the BND until he conferred with his lawyer. He said he and his son are working on a complaint and pursuing legal action.
Kollore said that his son and his friends often drag race (Lacey and his other friend deny that they were racing that day), but Kollore said regardless, that doesn’t excuse how badly Lacey and his son were treated by the officers, whom witnesses say were both Black.
“My issue is how this one detective and how this situation was handled and how these young people of color were treated by certain officers in the East St. Louis Police Department…We don’t need to be treating our kids like this,” Kollore, of Belleville, said. “His friends are mad. Like most young African-American males, they’re mad. They want to react. They want to respond. They want to treat the police the way the police are treating them, and that’s not the way to do it.”
Kollore said he often hosts sessions in the East St. Louis community to build a better relationship between kids and the police. After hearing about what happened to his son and his son’s friend, he has second thoughts about participating in those events.
“These are the very concerns that have been voiced by kids at the JJK (Center) and the TAKE program,” Kollore said. “This was their main concern right here and this is a prime example of what these kids are talking about the police. I really struggle with helping you build a relationship because now I feel like their greatest fears are true and how can I help them or how can I help y’all when stuff like this happens?”
DeAsia Paige is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.