Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was shocked to learn that, after another night of violence in St. Louis, Democratic Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner had released all arrested protesters.
Following a night of violent riots — during which four police officers were shot and retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn was killed — Schmitt said his office learned that despite the fact that police had made several dozen arrests, every one of the protesters had been released.
“In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets by local prosecutor Kim Gardner,” Schmitt tweeted Wednesday.
In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets by local prosecutor Kim Gardner. pic.twitter.com/tMZVAyHssw
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) June 3, 2020
Schmitt spoke with the Daily Caller Wednesday evening, calling the manner in which Gardner was handling the situation in St. Louis “completely unacceptable.” (RELATED: St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner Skips Out On Court Date, Says Critics Are Racially Motivated)
Schmitt said police officers were consistently being targeted during the protests.
“It’s like a war zone,” Schmitt told the Caller. “Law enforcement officers risk their lives to go out and make these arrests only to find out that the circuit attorney is allowing every single one of them back on the street within 24 hours.”
Schmitt also said that there was video showing people throwing bricks at police officers as well as video showing people damaging police transport vehicles. He said none of the people captured in those videos had at that time been charged.
Gardner had previously ordered the release of a number of inmates from the city jail, according to Schmitt — some of whom had been charged with domestic violence and other violent crimes — due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, there had been no outbreak connected with the St. Louis City correctional facilities.
“If you are going to loot and steal and burn down buildings and you’re going to be out in 24 hours, that’s not accountability, that’s completely unacceptable,” Schmitt concluded. “In a civilized society, you ought to know that your life and property are going to be protected.”
Gardner responded by saying the cases that were referred to her office and were related to the rioting and looting had lacked sufficient evidence.
“We need the police to bring admissible evidence to charge. My office cannot issue any case when there is not admissible evidence. Point blank,” Gardner said.
“And if we do issue a case when there is not admissible evidence, that is unethical,” Gardner continued. “And I was assured by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department that when they have the required admissible evidence, they will bring these cases to my office for prosecution.”
In the meantime, Schmitt says his office has partnered with federal prosecutors in an attempt to “bring those engaged in criminal acts to justice.”
The violence, looting & destruction in St. Louis last night was unacceptable. I joined @AftertheBell to talk about our unprecedented partnership with federal prosecutors to bring those engaged in criminal acts to justice. pic.twitter.com/FYPT0GuIZZ
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) June 2, 2020
Gardner has clashed with the St. Louis Police Department on a number of occasions in the past. She has sent out a list of officers from whom she will not accept cases or evidence, claiming those officers were racially biased. This limitation makes it more difficult for the police department to provide Gardner’s office with evidence at all.
She is also currently under investigation for suborning perjury in connection to the case that prompted former Republican Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to resign from office.