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Asheriff’s assistant in St. Louis, Missouri, is recovering from a punch and hit with her own baton on Christmas Day after telling a woman she needed to wear a mask inside a gas station. Police have released surveillance footage of the suspect from inside the store and asked for help identifying her.
The case has drawn attention beyond St. Louis because a witness recorded the assault and shared the images on social media. A clip that has circulated online shows the moment the suspect grabbed the officer’s baton and hit her over the head with it as the officer tried to stand up.
Police Say the Woman Became ‘Belligerent’ After the Deputy Told Her She Couldn’t Enter the Store Without a Mask
The violent confrontation occurred at a Shell gas station on North Tucker Boulevard just before midnight on December 25. According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the 59-year-old officer was working security at the gas station that night.
The suspect entered the store without a mask. The agent said she told the woman that she had to cover her face in order to enter the store. Business owners in St. Louis should enforce the wearing of masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Surveillance video released by the police department shows that the suspect did, in fact, have a mask in his hand and appeared to put it on as he turned to walk down the aisle of a store. The images in the store do not include audio.
No video has been released of what the deputy said that happened next. She said the suspect “became belligerent” after being instructed to don a mask. The officer said the woman pushed her as she left the store and then continued to hit the officer “with a closed fist.” Police said the suspect then grabbed the officer’s baton and hit her with it, resulting in a concussion.
Police described the suspect as a black woman who was about 6’1 “tall and weighed between 90 and 200 pounds. She was wearing a 3/4 length black coat, a dark shirt and black pants at the time of the assault. Police noted that her straight black hair was possibly a wig. Anyone with information was asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477) or the 4th District Detective at 314-444-2500.
The Suspect Hit the Deputy With the Baton While She Was on the Ground
It is not clear who filmed the confrontation outside the Shell gas station, but the images have been republished and shared on Twitter and Facebook. Clip 1:33 begins with the agent already on the ground as the suspect hits her. The suspect then grabs the officer’s baton and is seen lowering it as the officer attempts to stand up. At that moment two men intervene and one of them seems to snatch the suspect’s cane.
The woman turns and walks toward the gas pumps. The agent manages to get back on her feet and follow the suspect. Approximately 40 seconds later, the deputy and the woman are seen arguing next to a red vehicle.
Woman wanted after she hit a deputy sheriff with her own baton for asking her to wear a mask.
A man hands the officer his baton as the suspect gets into the passenger seat. The agent proceeds to hit the suspect with the baton several times while the suspect grabs the suspect’s head with his hands. The suspect finally pushes the officer back and closes the door. The deputy tries to open the door but it was closed. The red vehicle left the scene.
The St. Louis Sheriff Praised the Deputy & Said the Incident Was an Example of the Danger Law Enforcement Officers Face Daily
According to St. Louis Police, emergency medical responders were called to the gas station, but the officer declined medical attention. In a statement to local media KSDK-TV and KMOV-TV, St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts offered reassurance that despite sustaining head injuries, the officer was expected to be fine. He praised her and said that she “acted admirably while hurt and under pressure.”
Betts added that the Christmas Day incident served as an example of the danger her officers face while on the job. “This individual made a serious mistake and we are working with the St. Louis Police Department to arrest and press charges against this attacker.” The sheriff also reminded community members to continue wearing masks in public as the pandemic continues.