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Police officers crash into gay bar in St. Louis, arrest owner

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said the officers will be held accountable if an investigation reveals they were involved in misconduct.
A picture from surveillance video that shows a police cruiser crashing into a gay bar.
Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 21, 2023

An investigation is underway in St. Louis after an officer crashed into a gay bar. The incident led to a series of events which ended with one of the bar's owners being placed under arrest. 

The crash at Bar:PM happened at around 12:30 a.m. Monday. 

After the crash, Chad Morris, a co-owner of the bar who lives in an apartment above the business, was arrested. Police claim Morris struck an officer in the chest while questioning police about the crash. 

Morris' attorney disputes that his client was the aggressor. 

Attorney Javad Khazaeli said Morris only approached officers after they had detained his husband, James Pence, who was also questioning police about the crash. 

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"It's outrageous that officers driving recklessly, speeding, breaking the law, instead of them being held accountable, that an owner of a business, who lives there, is then threatened told that if he didn't show his ID ... he would be arrested," Khazaeli said. 

Pence was reportedly handcuffed, but eventually released. However, Morris was taken into custody and charged with assault and resisting arrest. 

After staying mostly silent about the crash, Lt. Col. Renee Kriesmann addressed the incident on Wednesday. 

She said the officer who crashed into the bar admitted to being distracted by the police radio in the vehicle. However, the bar's owners reportedly said the officers gave them a different story, saying they swerved to avoid hitting a dog and later saying they tried to miss a parked car. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the police cruiser did not have a dashboard camera. The department has also refused to immediately release video from the responding officers' body cameras, saying it's part of the investigation.  

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones offered her voice to the incident, noting that the bar has been a place of refuge for the LGBTQ+ community. She added, "Officers involved will be held accountable for any and all misconduct committed."