Ex-Missouri detective gets 6 years in beating of suspect
A former police detective who repeatedly kicked a defenseless man during a 2019 arrest was sentenced Monday in Missouri to six years in federal prison.
Ellis Brown III, 32, of High Ridge, Missouri, was an officer with the St. Ann Police Department in suburban St. Louis when the incident occurred. A federal jury convicted Brown in June of felony deprivation of rights under color of law.
Steven Kolb led St. Ann police officers on a chase in April 2019 through north St. Louis before his car and several police cars crashed, prosecutors said during Brown’s trial. After the crash, Kolb initially tried to run before lying on his stomach in a bank parking lot with his hands outstretched.
Investigators said Brown repeatedly kicked Kolb, who was restrained and facedown. Two St. Louis officers intervened to stop Brown. The incident was captured on bank surveillance video, and prosecutors said it showed Kolb had surrendered and was not a threat.
“Ellis Brown was interested in one thing and one thing only: retribution,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sirena Wissler said in her closing argument during the trial.
Prosecutors said the beating required Kolb to be flown to a hospital for treatment of broken ribs and broken bones in his face.
An email message left with Brown’s attorney, James Towey, was not immediately returned on Monday. Towey said in his closing argument that Brown could have believed Kolb had a weapon, though no weapon was found.
“Police work is a very dangerous job,” Towey told the jury. “They make split-second decisions.”
Brown had a string of misconduct complaints on his record when he joined the St. Ann department in 2017. He previously left the St. Louis Police Department during a state of Missouri disciplinary investigation in which he and his partner were accused of following a vehicle that crashed, then not reporting the crash or helping the driver.
Brown denied the misconduct, but state officials placed his police license on probation.
Brown also was one of two officers who shot and killed 25-year-old Kajieme Powell in St. Louis in 2014 while investigating reports that Powell stole an energy drink and snacks from a market. Local prosecutors later declined to charge the officers, who said Powell approached them with a knife.
Several criminal cases involving Brown in St. Louis were later thrown out when lawyers found he submitted nearly identical language in 19 search warrant applications.