ST. LOUIS - An officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department filed a federal lawsuit Monday (June 17) against the city of St. Louis and a fellow officer accused of shooting him in the arm. The officer said the injuries he sustained have left him permanently disabled, unable to work, and he is at risk of losing his home.
On June 12, 2017, a chase involving St. Louis police and a stolen car came to an end near Park Lane and Astra Avenue in the city's North Pointe neighborhood. St. Louis police said the suspects and officers exchanged gunfire.
The lawsuit states three suspects inside the car got out and ran past the home of off-duty Police Officer Milton Green, who was in his driveway working on a friend's car. One of the suspects pointed his gun at Green.
Green drew his department-issued service weapon, identified himself as a police officer, and told the suspect to drop his gun. The suspect ran.
Moments later, uniformed officers arrived and ordered Green to drop his gun and get on the ground. The lawsuit said Green complied, identified himself as an officer and showed his badge.
According to the lawsuit, one officer told Green to "shut the hell up and stay on the ground" before walking away. A detective allowed Green to get up and told other officers he was police and "specifically directed them not to shoot Officer Green," according to the lawsuit.
While Green was giving the detective a description of the suspect, the lawsuit states Officer Christoper Tanner arrived on the scene, shouted, "Drop your weapon!" and simultaneously shot Green in the arm. Green's family witness the incident.
Green was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. He said he told investigators what happened outside his home.
"Anybody that came into that emergency room, I told them what happened," said Green. "My story never changed."
Green said he was disappointed to hear the statement then-Interim Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole provided to the media outside the hospital that night.
"An off-duty officer who lives in that area heard the commotion, came out of his house to render assistance, and during the exchange of gunfire, he was struck in his arm," O'Toole told reporters that night.
According to the lawsuit, moments before the shooting Green was calmly talking to the detective with a badge in his hand.
Since the shooting, Green said he has gone through six months of physical therapy, he has a plate from his elbow to his wrist and lasting problems.
"It's numb. It hurts," said Green. "Sometimes I get the shakes, or I get shooting pains through it."
Green said he is not able to do simple tasks around the house, and he cannot return to work because he is not able to properly hold a gun due to his injury.
Green, a former elementary school teacher, said he became an officer to support his family and make a difference in the community where he grew up. He served the police department for 12 years, most recently as a Community Relations Officer, and was preparing for a promotion after passing the sergeant's exam shortly before the shooting, the lawsuit states.
"If you could save one life that day, you felt like you did your job, especially in the City of St. Louis," said Green.
Green said he is at risk of losing his home and is not able to provide for his four children the way he wants to. His children have required therapy as a result of the incident, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Green's constitutional rights were violated, officers used excessive force against him, he was assaulted and unlawfully seized, and the city is responsible for allowing this to happen by not properly training Tanner.
The lawsuit points out Green is African-American, and Tanner is white. "The racial implications of how Officer Green has been treated cannot be ignored," it states.
Jeff Roorda, a spokesperson for the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association, the primary union for SLMPD officers, said the union’s president hosted a fundraiser to Green. Roorda added, “20 percent of the union’s members are minorities, and well over 20 percent of the assistance provided is given to minority members.”
The city said it does not comment on pending litigation.
Two 17-year-old suspects were arrested in connection with the original incident that preceded the shooting of Green, and two guns were recovered. The third suspect got away.
The suspects were each charged with seven counts of first-degree assault, seven counts of armed criminal action, felony fleeing, and tampering. However, the circuit attorney's office said the charges against the two defendants were dismissed and the matter remains under investigation.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with Green's expenses.