DOWNTOWN – A St. Louis police officer has sued another member of his own department for shooting him in 2017. In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Milton Green says that his rights were violated and that the city did nothing but back the actions of the other officer, Christopher Tanner. Green is African-American and Tanner is white.
“The City of St. Louis, Missouri, ratified Defendant Tanner’s unconstitutional conduct through its custom of unreasonable seizures and excessive force and its failure to train and supervise its officers.”
In the suit, Green claims to have been working on a car at his home, while off duty, when a suspect driving a stolen car crashed nearby. The driver took off on foot and eventually exchanged gunfire with police who were chasing him. Green drew his service weapon and attempted to help stop the suspect. When Tanner approached, he saw Green with a gun and ordered him to drop it and get on the ground. The suit says Green followed the order, and the suspect got away.
Green identified himself as a police officer, and the officer who ordered him to the ground simply walked away, according to the suit. It was then that Green began talking with a police detective at the scene, identified as Brett Carlson.
The suit says Carlson asked him to come over and describe the suspect. Green picked up his weapon, and with it pointed to the ground and his badge in the other hand, began walking toward Carlson.
Then, according to the suit, two more officers approached and, “One of the officers, Defendant Tanner, shouted, ‘Drop your weapon!’ and simultaneously shot Officer Green without allowing Officer Green any time to respond.”
The suit continues, “Detective Carlson yelled, ‘I told you he was off duty. I told you not to shoot.’ Defendant Tanner stood silent, offering no aid or apology for such an egregious transgression.”
The documents go on to say that Green’s marriage collapsed, that his children required therapy and that the department did little to discipline Tanner.
“Despite Defendant Tanner’s grievous misconduct and the downward spiral it caused in Officer Green’s life, SLMPD has not handled its investigation of Officer Green’s shooting with any solemnity.
“Instead, SLMPD never interviewed Officer Green. Hardly impartial, the internal affairs investigator was the father of Defendant Tanner’s partner. On information and belief, Defendant Tanner only faced administrative leave for shooting Officer Green.
“Officer Green, on the other hand, a 12-year veteran of the force, has been tossed aside by those he once considered his brothers. The racial implications of how Officer Green has been treated cannot be ignored. Officer Green is African American, while Defendant Tanner is white.”
The suit goes on to paint a picture of racial inequity within the department, accusing the St. Louis Police Officers Association of having regular fundraisers for white officers, including William Olsten, who is currently under indictment for beating and shooting a man he argued with. It also claims the union assisted Tanner after he shot Green. The suit says no help was ever offered to Green, who it claims is “drowning in bills.”
The St. Louis Police Officers Association sees this part of the complaint quite differently, saying they never helped Tanner and did help Green.
“We gave Milton over $1,000 and our Union President sponsored a fundraiser for him,” union business manager Jeff Roorda said via text. “The Union did not sponsor a fundraiser for the officer who shot Milton.”
Beyond that, the suit accuses the city of negligence because of how officers are trained, and basically accuses city officials of looking the other way when police use too much force against residents.
“(The city) had notice that its training and supervision was inadequate and likely to result in constitutional violations based on multiple incidents of officers unconstitutionally seizing and using excessive force on law-abiding citizens, as referenced above.
“In its failures, Defendant City has been deliberately indifferent to the rights of its residents, and those failures and customs are the moving force behind, and direct and proximate cause of, the constitutional violations Officer Green suffered.”
A spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department would not discuss the case, saying only, “We do not make any statements and/or comments regarding pending litigation.”