ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis police officers have been charged by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for an April shooting outside a bar. The St. Louis Police blasted the charges, calling them an, "unprecedented abuse of power."
Prosecutors on Monday charged officers Joseph Schmitt and William Olsten with first-degree assault and armed criminal action stemming from a violent altercation last April. Schmitt also faces a weapons charge.
It was an investigation by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office — not police — that led to the latest charges.
"Kim Gardner has disregarded the statements of four police officers, video evidence and forensic evidence and instead decided to take the word of a would-be cop-killer who the police department describes as a known gang member and charged the victims in this crime," St. Louis Police Officers Association business manager Jeff Roorda said in a statement.
Gardner's office said police in May sought charges against the patron. Gardner not only declined, but launched her own investigation that instead led to charges against the officers.
Gardner, in a statement, said criminal actions by police erode public trust.
"These types of situations, while rare, are crushing to the criminal justice system," she said.
The shooting happened April 27 outside Bomber O'Brien's bar. Hayden told reporters at the time that four off-duty officers were there when one of them got into a confrontation with a 22-year-old patron.
A probable cause statement released Tuesday said that outside the bar, Schmitt and Olsten approached a van where the patron was sitting. During the encounter, Olsten allegedly slammed the patron to the ground, causing the patron's gun to go off.
Olsten was struck in the hand and arm. Schmitt responded, according to the probable cause statement, by shooting the patron, who was seriously injured but survived.
The charges also came as the department reels from the loss of an officer who police say was shot accidentally by another officer in a game Gardner's office characterized as "Russian Roulette".
24-year-old Officer Katlyn Alix was killed. Fellow Officer Nathaniel Hendren is charged with involuntary manslaughter.