Fired Florissant Police Officer Charged With First-Degree Assault
A now-fired Florissant police officer has been charged with first-degree assault after officials said he drove his unmarked police vehicle into a man earlier this month.
St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar also charged former officer Joshua Smith with assault in the fourth degree and armed criminal action. Lohmar took over the case after the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office cited a conflict of interest.
“This is a case where we have had these situations before where a police officer was not involved but where someone used a vehicle as a weapon,” Lohmar said Wednesday. “In those circumstances we’ve always charged it with assault first degree and armed criminal action.”
A doorbell video of the June 2 incident shared by Real STL News days later showed Smith hitting the victim with his car. A second video shared this week showed the vehicle with its headlights on directly striking the victim, whom officials have not identified. The video shows Smith getting out of his car and kicking the man.
Florissant Police Chief Timothy Fagan fired Smith last week. Smith turned himself in Wednesday morning.
“In officer Smith’s report, he indicated that as he saw the victim exit the vehicle, the victim guarded in front of his car and in an effort to avoid colliding with him, he swerved and nonetheless the collision took place,” Lohmar said. “The video evidence just proves that that’s patently false.”
Lohmar said that his office is reviewing the report and that the office could look into charges for filing a false report. Lohmar said there isn’t a specific statute to address that.
For more than a week, protesters in Florissant have demanded that authorities charge Smith.
“I certainly support their right to protest,” Lohmar said. “I will say that didn’t influence our decision, for us we’re just guided by the facts.”
Fagan said an internal investigation is still underway. Two officers who were in the vehicle with Smith have been suspended with pay. Three other officers who were at the scene in another vehicle are still working.
“In the event that our officers step outside of their duties and they do things that they should not, they will always be held accountable as every other citizen, as every other member of the public,” Fagan said.
Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis
Our priority is you. Support coverage that’s reliable, trustworthy and more essential than ever. Donate today.
Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org