A St. Louis patrolman was pulled off the streets Tuesday after being captured on video striking a man repeatedly with a baton and spraying him with pepper spray in the early hours of New Year's Day.
The 2 minute, 13 second video, recorded on a smart phone and posted on the Internet, shows the police officer pulling a man from a car at a Shell gas station about 2:30 a.m. The officer then pushes the man to the ground, strikes him seven times with a police baton and uses pepper spray before handcuffing him and walking him toward a police substation on the property. Three men standing near the car witness the incident without getting involved.
The video was shot by a bystander in a nearby car. Internal affairs detectives are investigating the incident, and the officer has been placed on administrative duty.
The owner of the gas station, at 1815 Arsenal Street, identified the officer as Dustin Ries, whom he said was working off-duty for him. The owner, Joel Platke, said Ries had worked for several years at the station providing security out of the substation. Platke said the officer was justified in his actions and was reacting to an unruly, drunken customer.
Police spokeswoman Erica Van Ross said the department would not release details unless the investigation resulted in charges or disciplinary action.
"While all of the circumstances of the incident are not known, what is seen on the video is extremely disturbing to us," the department said in a statement. "Force is to be used only when absolutely necessary, and this department takes the use of force very seriously."
Police added that no one filed a complaint about the incident and that there were no arrest reports. The department first heard about the video Tuesday morning, after media outlets began asking about it.
Ries, 37, of Chesterfield, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, John Bouhasin, declined to comment because of the ongoing internal affairs investigation.
Ries has previously been named in two lawsuits accusing him of excessive force.
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