St. Louis Officer Smokes Cigar While Detaining Suspect, Prompts Internal Investigation

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
May 18, 2024US News
St. Louis Officer Smokes Cigar While Detaining Suspect, Prompts Internal Investigation
St. Louis City Police officers patrol in St. Louis on June 2, 2020. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The conduct of a St. Louis police officer is the focus of an internal investigation after a video captured him nonchalantly smoking a cigar while arresting a suspect.

The footage, originally posted by Voice of the People News, showed the moment the officer casually took several puffs of the cigar as he straddled the suspect during an arrest in downtown St. Louis over last weekend.

The officer appeared to pin the detained suspect on the ground with his knee. He had one hand on the man’s chest to keep him down while the other was on his cigar.

The short video also revealed that it was another officer who gave him a lighter. It also showed several other officers were present at the time and witnessed the incident.

In a statement to NTD News, the St. Louis Metro Police Department’s (SLMPD) Public Affairs and Information Division confirmed that the incident happened shortly after midnight on May 12.

“We are aware of an abbreviated video being circulated of one of our officers lighting what appears to be a cigar while arresting a male subject,” according to Evita Caldwell, SLMPD Public Information Officer.

“An internal investigation has been launched to better understand the circumstances of the situation, what led up to the video and the events that transpired after. We can confirm some officers on scene were equipped with body worn cameras,” the statement said.

The incident happened while the officer was working for his other job at a downtown nightclub.

“We are also able to confirm the officer was working secondary employment for Marquee Lounge when the establishment asked the officer to remove the male from the premises,” according to SLMPD.

The suspect was handcuffed and appeared to speak while pinned on the ground in handcuffs, although it is unclear what he said. He also tried to free his hands at one point, but the officer grabbed his arms to restrict his movement.

Comments from a group of bystanders can be heard on the video, including a witness who warned the suspect against making any sudden movements.

Another witness offered a lighter to the officer and spoke with the suspect.

“Pull your lighter out, bro. No, don’t pull it out. They might think you got a gun,” he said.

The man was ultimately arrested for trespassing on private property and resisting arrest, according to the police department.
Officials said no injuries were reported.

The viral incident prompted mixed reactions online regarding the professionalism and conduct of law enforcement officers while on duty.

“That’s pretty unprofessional,” one critic posted on social media platform X. “I get that people have their own ways to deal with stress, but lighting up a cigar while arresting someone just sends the wrong message. Cops need to keep it together and act like pros, especially in public.”

Others pointed out that the officer was technically off-duty when the incident happened.

“He wasn’t on duty. He was at his second job as a security guard and he was asked to detain the criminal. Non-issue,” another person said.

NTD News also reached out to SLMPD regarding the officer’s status and whether he was placed on administrative leave pending the internal investigation but did not receive a response before publishing.

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