St. Louis, MO — A St. Louis Police Officer previously involved in a controversial fatal shooting “was high on cocaine as well as drunk when he smashed his police vehicle into a parked car” last December 19, reports the St. Louis American.
On January 27, the Missouri State Highway Patrol released lab results from a blood sample taken from Officer Jason Flanery the day of the accident. His Blood Alcohol Concentration at the time was .117, more than twice the legal limit. The test also found that Flanery had recently used cocaine. On January 25, Flanery was charged with two misdemeanors – Driving While Intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.
Although he resigned following his December 19 accident, Flanery retains his “class A” peace officer license and remains eligible for employment with another department. This won’t necessarily change if he is convicted of the charges arising from the drug-related automobile accident: He was hired by the St. Louis PD despite a conviction on a firearms-related criminal offense in 2001. Initially charged with a felony, Flanery was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “attempted unlawful use of a firearm,” pay a $300 fine, and required to undergo alcohol counseling (which apparently proved to be of little benefit).
To his credit, St. Louis Police Chief Samuel Dotson — defying pressure from the police officers’ union — will soon announce a new policy requiring toxicology screenings of all officers involved in fatal shootings.
Flanery’s background suggests he had more than a little in common with VonDerrit Myers Jr., whom he killed in October 2014. Myers, who had been arrested on gun charges at 16, was on probation when Flanery – in uniform and a department vehicle, but moonlighting as a “private” security guard – confronted him in the belief that he was one of several young black men who had fled from him earlier. The summary of facts in the Report filed by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office doesn’t specify why Flanery was pursuing the men, and specifies that Myers’s only documented activity in the minutes leading up to the confrontation was to buy a sandwich and share it with his friends.
According to his own testimony, Flanery had his gun drawn when he approached Meyers and ordered him to get on the ground. When Meyers refused to submit, Flanery went hands-on, grabbing his clothing. Meyers slipped out of the officer’s grip and ran up a nearby hill. Once reaching the top of the hill, Meyers – according to Officer Flanery – turned to face him holding what the officer believed to be a gun. Witnesses subsequently described an exchange of gunfire that left Meyers dead. According to the Circuit Attorney’s Office report, Flanery “retrieved the gun from near Myers’ body. It was a 9mm Smith and Wesson.” Gunpowder residue found on Myers’ body confirmed that he had fired the weapon.
While the Circuit Attorney’s Office declined to charge Flanery, it acknowledged that GPS readings from Myers’ ankle bracelet confirmed that he was not the subject of the initial pursuit – which began, once again, for reasons that have not been made clear. The confrontation, which Flanery escalated needlessly to the point of bloodshed, began as a case of mistaken identity, a fact that justifies an inquiry into his attitudes and predispositions regarding racial politics.
Social media posts gleaned by attorneys for Myers’ family provide a composite portrait of a right-wing military veteran “who is actually in love with weaponry” and possessing a “strong negatively biased view of African-Americans,” contends attorney Jermaine Wooten. A detailed statement made by a long-time acquaintance named Alex Davis describes Flanery as “the most racist person and most racist cop I’ve ever met.”
Davis says that he met Flanery “when I began working at the Fitness Center at the Carondelet Park YMCA” in October 2012. “Over the course of working together we had a lot of 20 minute + conversations on our political views,” Davis relates. “The last time we talked was June 2014.”
While Davis does not believe that Flanery hates all black people, his perception was that the officer “hates the ones that don’t act white and the ones on welfare and he hates the fact that black Americans predominantly vote Democrat.” He would often make “such outrageous generalizing statements as `they’ [black women] all get pregnant so they can go on welfare.’ And `then those kids grow up to be thugs.’ He used language like `animals,’ `beasts,’ and ‘niggers.’”
“Flanery’s statements led me to believe that he’s much quicker to make an assumption about any black person that acts black” – meaning one who doesn’t dress “like white people,” or adopt mannerisms and a style of speech associated with white people,” Davis continues. “He has called black people’s clothing `retarded’ and naturally associates [it] with thugs and welfare recipients. He says they all have guns and so many of them have pot/heroin/crack either on them, in their car, or at home.”
Assuming that Davis’s recollections – which were not provided as sworn testimony, it should be noted – were reliable, it’s reasonable to believe that when he confronted Myers without cause in October 2014, Flanery believed that one drug-using, gun-loving “thug” was just as guilty as the rest of them. The irony is that Flanery’s own criminal background, long-term substance abuse issues, and subsequent behavior reveal that, apart from ethnic identity, he was better-suited to the company of “beasts” and “thugs” than peaceful, productive people of all backgrounds.
The critical difference is that Flanery was, and remains, a criminally inclined, drug-abusing thug — with a valid “peace officer’s” license.