Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has not charged any people who were arrested for rioting, looting, and vandalism during recent protests over the death of George Floyd.
“To see that kind of level of violence and rioting that went on, police officers being shot and shot at, a retired police captain being murdered, people throwing rocks and gasoline and frozen water bottles at police officers, firefighters being assaulted and blocked from doing their job, businesses that have served the community for years being burned to the ground, it’s unfathomable that every single person arrested that night has been released,” he said in a statement, according to KSDK.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden said that 25 people were arrested during the unrest between Monday night and Tuesday, including 25 who were arrested during riots on Monday night and Tuesday morning where four officers were shot, KMOV reported. A retired police captain, David Dorn, was also allegedly shot and killed by a looter while he was protecting a pawn shop, according to officials.
The police department said that a person has to be released after 24 hours if they were not charged with a crime. Schmitt’s office told the station that Gardner’s office has as long as three years to charge someone.
“There is the chance that she could issue them, but they could riot and loot tonight even if she charges them later because they were released,” spokesman Chris Nuelle said, adding that releasing them sends the wrong message to criminals.
“It emboldens them,” he said. “There have to be consequences to that and we’re just not seeing that from the local prosecutor.”
The release of those who were arrested is “a stunning development,” Schmitt wrote on Twitter, laying the blame at the feet of Gardner.
Gardner, meanwhile, said in a news conference Tuesday that she would prosecute individuals who were involved in rioting.
“What happened last night was not about nonviolent protests, what happened was a small group of individuals chose to benefit off of the pain and suffering of our community and use it as excuse to … engage in senseless violence,” she remarked. “I will continue to uphold the rights to peacefully protest, but I want to be clear, I will use the full power of the law and my officer (sic) to prosecute and hold accountable anyone who murders police officers, shoots at police offices, or harms anyone in my community.”
Gardner’s office told KMOV4 all but two of the cases went to municipal courts.