St. Louis, MO — Surveillance footage is playing a crucial role in the case of a woman who claims St. Louis Police are trying to get away with a hit-and-run after they side-swiped her car, and then said she was at fault. The incident, which was caught on video, provides the perfect example of why people don’t trust police.
The incident occurred around 3 a.m. on July 26, when an unnamed St. Louis police officer’s patrol car collided with a 2004 Nissan Maxima, taking out the driver’s side mirror in the process. The officer never reported it, and never was going to report it — because he did not count on Danielle Allen having surveillance cameras in front of her home.
After watching the video, Allen said she reported the incident to police, and they were helpful at first—but then she received a letter in the mail claiming the police officer was not responsible for the damage to her vehicle and would not be paying for the damages. The letter reads in part:
“After reviewing your claim, I regret to inform you that the City of St. Louis is unable to accept liability. The police report documenting the incident reflects the operator of the police vehicle denies making contact with your vehicle. In addition, the video provided by you depicts the police vehicle driving near your vehicle, but it is inconclusive in proving the police vehicle make contact with your vehicle.”
That is when Allen reached out to the local news channel KTVI. After a reporter questioned the incident and brought up the fact the police car actually destroyed the driver’s side mirror, the reporter also went to City Hall and asked city council’s office to review the evidence.
As a result, Allen was given $2,400 by the city for the damages caused by the St. Louis police officer’s negligent actions. She was thankful the news organization was able to help her get her car repaired but she said the entire ordeal could have been avoided.
Once again, as TFTP has reported to near exhaustion, police officers seem to operate according to a double standard which the general public is not privileged enough to enjoy. In other words, they are in the “Boys in Blue” club and the general public cannot get away with what they get away with.
If the average citizen had been caught red-handed side-swiping a private vehicle and then fleeing the scene, that person would have been charged with “fleeing the scene of an accident.” If the officer had been doing his or her job, he or she would have left a note on the car for Allen to contact the department to have the vehicle repaired.
Allen noticed, after reviewing the surveillance footage, that the officer circled the block multiple times, presumably trying to ascertain how to handle the situation.
But as TFTP has reported, it is extremely difficult for police officers, departments, or even cities, to admit when one of their officers has made a serious mistake.
The police department’s spin machine starts with the public relations officer who usually claims there is an “active investigation” and the department cannot comment “until the investigation is complete.”
The media is usually on the side of the officers as well. As TFTP has reported, members of the press who ask too many questions get shunned by the police who then label them as a “persona non-grata” who they will not take questions from.
Lawyers for the department usually advise police not to respond until a lawsuit is presented to the department. Mayors and police chiefs sometimes get in on the denial game, often taking the side of their guilty officers. All the while, the general public could be mollified with a simple admission of wrongdoing and a polite apology.
Allen told KTVI, “I didn’t want to take it this far, either. I just wanted them to help me fix my vehicle.” Instead, the St. Louis PD and its spin machine were outed as attempting to protect a hit-and-run criminal, who happened to be one of their own.