JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) — A former police officer who pointed a gun and threatened to kill Ferguson protestors can be subject to criminal charges, a state commission ruled.
According to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, on Aug. 19, 2014, then St. Ann police lieutenant Raymond Albers pointed an A15 loaded with multiple bullets in the magazine and screamed, “Get the f*** back or I’ll f****ing kill you.” As the crowd retreated, someone asked Albers his name, to which he replied, “Go f*** yourself.” (Courthouse News was in the crowd when this occurred.)
Albers was one of hundreds of police officers called in from other jurisdictions to help police the protest in Ferguson, Mo., sparked by the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by a white Ferguson police officer.
Around midnight on Aug. 19, 2014, a sergeant from the Missouri Highway Patrol took away Albers’ fellow St. Ann officers to assist with arrests, leaving him alone without a walkie talkie.
Shortly after that, Albers said he was hit by a bottle of urine and saw several men with bandanas wrapped around their faces. Two of them had Molotov cocktails and another had a hand gun raised.
Albers lost the men in the crowd, but kept his gun raised. The crowd around Albers consisted mainly of media and several recordings captured the incident.
The crowd began taunting Albers after his “Go f*** yourself” response saying, “Your name’s go f*** yourself, Alright Go f***yourself” and “Officer Go F*** yourself is trying to kill me.”
At that time another officer, John Wall, approached Albers, lowered his gun and led him away from the crowd. He heard Albers threaten to kill members of the crowd.
Albers resigned from the St. Ann police force on Aug. 28, 2014.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety filed the complaint against Albers with the Administrative Hearing Commission.
Albers claimed he feared for his life after seeing the men and being hit with a bottle of urine. Albers argued that a police officer is authorized to use any amount of force necessary to protect himself and others.
Albers claimed that using a weapon to scan a crowd was a normal police operation during the Ferguson protests and that other officers had done the same.
In its Aug. 4 ruling, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission stated that what other officers may have done was immaterial because only Albers’ actions were the focus of the investigation.
The commission found that Albers had committed third-degree assault and harassment and that he is subject to discipline.
“Given his prior experience as a police officer, we conclude that a reasonable person in Albers’ shoes would recognize an ‘unreasonable risk’ and a ‘high degree of probability’ that the safety of the public would or could be jeopardized if a weapon were pointed at persons in a crowd while threatening them,” the commission wrote.
The matter has been sent back to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, which has the authority to suspend or permanently revoke Albers’ license.
Albers can appeal the ruling.
Published by Courthouse News Service.