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Video: Video Refutes Claims That St. Louis Police Held Children at Gunpoint

March 04, 2016  | 

VIDEO: Video Refutes Claims That St. Louis Police Held Children at Gunpoint

An allegation of children held at gunpoint by St. Louis police, which swept social media and led to a protest this week, was proven false by video from a patrol vehicle's dashboard camera, Police Chief Sam Dotson said Wednesday.

Dotson revealed the video at a press conference in answer to allegations made on social media, and at a protest outside Police Headquarters, that the officers were improperly aggressive, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"This is a completely different interaction than what was described in the paper," Dotson said. "There was no hostility on the part of the officers or the occupants inside the car.

"It was very conversational and very professional."

The video, which shows only part of the scene, appears to depict a routine traffic stop of a car about 5 p.m. Sunday on the parking lot of the Family Dollar store near Cherokee Street and Jefferson Avenue, with cordial conversation and no guns drawn. There were two adults and four children in the vehicle, and no hostility by either side, Dotson said.

Police said the car was stopped because a license check showed the plate did not match the vehicle. The people were sent on their way with no arrest and no tickets.

The controversy may have begun with a Facebook posting at 11:16 p.m. Sunday from a woman named Melissa Bennett who wrote:

"Tonight, the police pulled guns while my 2 year old nephew and 5 month old neice where in the car. The 2 year old reached for his Mother(my neice). The police yelled at him, told him to get back, and told him not to move. The guns were pulled out the entire time My family was harassed and followed..... Modern day terrorism. One of the passengers looked at the police. Soon they were pulled over. They were getting out of church. When we met soon after, the young adults were afraid to drive home.... Terrified. Tonight it hit my family. Tonight I will speak out. Tonight....Lord, tonight. I will not rest. I will keep going... Tonight..."

The story spread on Facebook and Twitter.

About 75 people demonstrated outside Police Headquarters on Monday night, blocking Olive Boulevard for about 20 minutes. Some chanted, "Black babies matter!" and placed baby dolls in the street.

Dotson said Wednesday, "This shows the vulnerability society has to social media, when an individual who may or may not be involved in an encounter casts a narrative that can't be vetted and there's no accountability. This story is out there and it's been retweeted thousands of times, when factually we investigate it, there is no substance to the allegations at all.

"The people who were actually involved know the truth," he said. "Nobody made a complaint, because there was nothing to complain about."


Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

Capt. Ahab @ 3/5/2016 10:27 AM

Yet another in an endless stream of cop-hating racists making false and perjured accusations...and being proven liars by bodycams, dashcams, and cellphones. Maybe scumbags should be sued for libel and charged for filing false complaints.

Brian @ 3/5/2016 11:01 AM

The irony of this is palpable. All we ever hear anymore is about how cops are all liars, and cover things up for each other yet here's this person whoever it is doing the exact same thing we are constantly getting hung up for, only she is actually lying when most of the time we are not. How did we get here?

Pup @ 3/5/2016 3:01 PM

Where is Leonard and his comments?

Robert @ 3/6/2016 10:00 PM

I am not Leonard...but I will comment:
1. As I have stated I believe that 90+% of the time the police act correctly / legally...the difference between me and most of this board is that the majority of this board believes that police act correctly 100% of the time.
Example: I have not seen an article since the Peter Liang jury came back...how can that not be LEO news?
Capt Ahab: Probably not illegal...but perhaps there was slander if the LEOs name was used. I don't think an official complaint was made...so it is free speech.

Now, here is another issue I have with this video. I believer in equal application of the law.
IF the St. Louis police rapidly release police video when they are proving their actions were correct / legal.
They should be held to the same standard when their actions are NOT professional / legal.
You can't say that video is a 'police record' when it makes the government look bad...but then say it is a public record when it makes the citizen look bad.

Chief 800 @ 3/7/2016 9:21 AM

Robert. If we have quick access to a false allegation and can quickly put the information out it can stop protests and riots. The flip side is if there is any validity to the claim from either side, some integrity of the investigation is protected by law. An example would be, confessions are not subject to public access until after a trial or if released by the defendant or their representative. We LEO are not always trying to hide things, we have a complex job that is not fully understood by the public. All police matters are not automatically public information. Transparency is a great policy and should be practiced when applicable. It can be illegal when not applicable.

Robert @ 3/7/2016 1:53 PM

Chief 800..some good points.
But how does your theory of 'integrity of the investigation' work where the LEO gets to review the video, with his attorney prior to making a statement (which can be up to 4 days later)? How much data / rumor is leaked to the LEO in those 4 days (especially if the investigation is done internally).

The protection by law you speak of is typically thwarted by the police departments inaccurate assessment of the law. The recent case of the shooting in Chicago for example: for years the police said the video was protected..then just as a judge rules there reasoning was incorrect...the video is released.
I am fine with the Police / City legal counsel making an occasional mistake in judgement...but in most of these cases the slow / denied release of police video is not a simple mistake in judgement, but a concerted effort to delay the release until a proper cover story can be fabricated OR the 'optics' of the situation get better.

Chief 800 @ 3/8/2016 8:03 AM

I am sure there are unscrupulous people in police departments around the country. It is a job performed by humans. But rest assured that that is not the norm. Ever wonder why just about only one out of every 10 Officers that is shot in the line of duty ever makes the news. It doesn't make for a sensational story. One " Minister" rapes a person it is a 5 week headline. Myself and thousands of officers are decent human beings doing our absolute best to provide this unrecognizable society with some form of protection, but I must say the pool of recruits just keep getting smaller and smaller. Why would a young person aspire to keep a clean record, keep physically fit, stay updated on constantly changing laws and procedure's and go through a rigorous academy designed to test you to the max. When this media driven " Police are corrupt militant's" attitude is thrown in our face daily. The answer is we wont have any, the public will get their wish and their will eventually be no more LE>

plato's playdough @ 3/8/2016 8:27 PM

A small detail that caught my eye, in this report....

Video footage documents no hostility at contact. Comment reads "It was very conversational and very professional."

So why did the subjects change their mind? Were they contacted by an organization?

If the video had not been immediately been made available, would the subjects have pushed for legal intervention, or initiated protests in the middle of traffic?

The concept of freedom of speech was never meant to protect lying on a public forum, isn't that what Facebook is?

Of course presidential candidates can lie all the way to Hell's door. Don't know why we should believe in any of them by now.

DD16 @ 3/11/2016 12:49 PM

Robert, look up Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, this will help clear up why police cannot just release items right away, even when the officer may be wrong.

FDC @ 3/11/2016 4:12 PM

Robert, I have a problem with you describing her lying as freedom of speech. Second there was no rapid release of the video. It was released when made available same as when it proves an officer in the wrong. Freedom of speech is free to those who tell the truth NOT when they make FALSE accusations against Police Officers. Dude what is wrong with you. Officers have legal rights also! You are just trying to stir the proverbial muddy waters with your rhetoric. Typically thwarted by the Police Department. Now that is PURE CONJECTURE on your part with no evidence to back up that claim. What you are saying is the Police Departments are lying! So you find it freedom of speech when the lying POS make false accusations but not when the Police afford the officers their legal rights. Guess we can tell who you side with on this issue so please forego looking up the Police Officers Bill of Rights as you will find fault with that also.

Robert @ 3/12/2016 8:49 PM

DD16: Exactly...the LEBOR is total and complete BS..and should be thrown out in every state & City. It is simply the PBA / Unions way to ensure their members are never disciplined. LEO already have Garrity Statement protections...that is all that is required.
FDC: I don't know how to tell you this but lying is protected speech...if it wasn't everyone politician in the world would be in jail. This assume that no sworn oath of truth was made. I can sit on the street corner and say that Elvis is alive or that JFK was shot by the CIA all day long....they may not be true, but they are protected.
FDC...I simply do not believer that police release video that shows when LEO are in the wrong...they typically fight the release tooth and nail.
Conjecture on my part...I don't think so. Name a case, where LEO released a video with 7 days of the event... that showed their misconduct.
What I am saying is police will delay video while a PR campaign is conducted to improve their standing.

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