A black St. Louis police officer who was shot by a white police officer in what his department claimed was a case of “friendly fire” filed a lawsuit Monday saying it was a case of racial profiling instead.
Milton Green was off-duty and out of uniform and working on a car with a friend outside his home on June 21, 2017 when he heard a car crash nearby, which turned out to be driven by suspects who were being chased by police.
Police chased after the suspects on foot and attempted to shoot one that was running toward Green’s house, according to the lawsuit which was filed in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis against the city and the officer who shot him.
The suspect dropped to the ground to avoid the bullets but quickly stood back up and pointed his gun at Green and his friend. Green then pulled out his department-issued gun and yelled, “Police! Drop your gun!”
Green tried to chase the suspect who ran off through his yard but was immediately told to get on the ground by another St. Louis cop.
Green tried to explain he was an officer but was told to “shut the hell up and stay on the ground.”
Detective Brett Carlson recognized Green and released him, specifically ordering the officers not to shoot Green. Carlson directed Green to approach him, gun and badge in hand.
However, St. Louis police officer Christopher Tanner then shouted “Drop your weapon!” while simultaneously shooting Green in the arm. Green had been trying to give Carlson a description of the suspect who had gotten away when he was shot.
“I told you he was off duty,” Carlson said. “I told you not to shoot.”
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Green said that life-altering Wednesday night two years ago would have played out differently had he been white.
“I wouldn’t have gotten shot,” Green said. “How did he not see my badge in my hand? My gun was pointed down, and the other officers were calm. The detective told them who I was and told them not to shoot.”
In his interview with Post-Dispatch, Green expresses how alone and betrayed he has felt in the last two years following the shooting. He has not been back to work since he is unable to grip with his hand since the shooting.
Green’s pension has also yet to be processed, leaving him on the verge of foreclosing his house. Green’s attorney, Javad Khazaeli, says its due to a second police report on the incident being kept a secret.
“It’s kind of shocking to find out that what you’ve done for the department doesn’t matter anymore,” Green said.
Green has been with the department since 2005 and was on his way to becoming a sergeant, having already passed his exams. Despite his long history with the department, the lawsuit states the St. Louis Police Officers Association raised about $2,000 for the officer who shot Green and held no fundraiser for Green himself.
The lawsuit went on to mention another larger fundraiser SLPOA held for a white officer, “currently under indictment for beating and shooting a man he had argued with in a bar and lying to police about what occurred.” Khazaeli stresses the differences in the way Green is being treated compared to fellow white officers cannot be ignored.
“It’s kind of an eye-opener what you find out about the department,” Green said. “The people you think will come check on you who don’t. The department creates a separation. It makes me feel like less of an officer.”
Green’s case is not the first instance of racial divide felt within the department.
Earlier today, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said she has compiled a list of 60 officers from the department who are banned from bringing cases to her office after they had been accused of making racist and anti-Muslim social media posts.
The cops were exposed in a multi-year investigation conducted by a Philadelphia lawyer into the department, “uncovered hundreds of racist and Islamaphobic social media posts by about 40 current and former city police officers.”
One officer within the department allegedly openly spoke of “skinning coons.” The hostile work environment forced 10-year-veteran of the department, Nikki Brown, to relocate to Illinois where she continues to work as an officer. The department chief dismissed Brown’s complaints and ended an investigation for racial discrimination against her despite another officer confirming the incidents happened.
In 2017, during protests following the acquittal of Jason Stockley, the white officer who shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith, a black undercover cop was beaten by four white cops who had confused him for a protester.
St. Louis police officer Luther Hall has not returned to work since. Four of the officers involved were indicted for various charges. Their text messages were exposed in the process showing they had plans to beat, “the hell out of these (expletive) once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!”
Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards ordered St. Louis officers to undergo sensitivity training, but some speculate its effectiveness.
“Like training sessions will make you non-racist,” a local officer who wished to remain anonymous said.
In 2009, a black undercover New York City police officer named Omar Edwards was shot and killed by a white cop who confused him for a suspect as he was chasing the real suspect with a gun in his hand. The cop who killed him, Andrew Dunton, has since been promoted.
The same thing happened in 2016 in Maryland when a white Prince George’s County cop shot and killed a black undercover cop he had confused for a suspect.
Jacai Colson’s family filed a lawsuit in that case which is still pending. Meanwhile, the suspect cops were trying to kill that day was convicted of Colson’s murder and sentenced to 195 years in prison.
But the family still wants the white cop, Taylor Krauss, to be charged as well.