St. Louis Judge Refuses To Watch Video Showing Officer Sucker Punching Teenager and Then Clears Him . . . Police Union Calls For His Rehiring

burkeIt is often difficult to get actual charges against a police officer, but former St. Louis Officer Rory Bruce, 35, was an exception. After all, it was a police video that clearly showed him verbally abusing a teenager and then sucker punching him while handcuffed. One would think it would be an easy conviction, even without the testimony of the 16-year-old boy. That is if the judge watched the video. She did not. Judge Teresa Counts Burke showed no reason to actually watch the video before ruling and now the police union is demanding that the department rehire Bruce.


One the video from 2012, Bruce is shown on the left as he pulls the teenager out of the police van with the words “Stand out here with us…you lying piece of shit.” There are words and then a punch from Bruce decks the kids.

The police union appears to have watched a different video. Jeff Roorda with the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association insists that he can see the suspect moving in a threatening manner and Bruce defending himself: “It’s one forearm blow as he’s trained to do.” Bruce later on the video says “I told you I wanted to search you and you came out of the thing and started lunging at me.” There is no lunging that I can see on the video.

The police fired Bruce on the basis of the video and the prosecutors brought charges. However, Burke declined to watch the video. I am not sure why. Clearly it is a problem with no testifying victim but that does not rule out a charge or a conviction. If there is no witness to a bank robbery but a bank video, a judge would not simply refuse the evidence and acquit.  There are various ways to authenticate a video that is taken by a police camera. If the prosecutors failed to authenticate, it is not referenced in articles but such a failure would itself be quite suspicious.

Roorda praises the judge for not watching the video which is describes as a “gotcha-head hunter” tool for cops. He inexplicably states, according to the article below, that such video should only be used to protest officials. Thus, it would seem that the video can only be used as a defense of officers in abuse cases and not as evidence against them. That would seem a bizarre claim but it appears close to what happened in this case.

Now that Burke cleared the officer, Roorda wants him rehired.

By the way, Burke’s partner David Wilson, 28, is also under investigation for striking another teenager in his custody. Both were probationary officers.

Source: Kmov

54 thoughts on “St. Louis Judge Refuses To Watch Video Showing Officer Sucker Punching Teenager and Then Clears Him . . . Police Union Calls For His Rehiring”

  1. nick,

    I grew up on HH re-runs. I think it’s one of the funniest (and weirdest) shows ever on TV. By all rights, it’s an idea that shouldn’t work, but it does and does so brilliantly. Not many people realize a good number of the cast were Jews who had been in concentration camps and/or fleeing the Nazis themselves, including John Banner (Schultz). I’ve heard there are plans for a film ‘re-boot’ of the franchise in the works, but I just think it would be really hard to match the original cast’s chemistry.

  2. Gene, I was hoping someone would get it. My freshman year in college our floor had a Hogan’s Heroes cult following. There was one guy who was like Rain Man regarding the show. So, we would all kick in $1. At finals every semester, our “adjunct professor” would prepare a Hogan’s Heroes test, based on the shows during that semester. The highest score got a case of beer. I never won. I enjoyed the show but didn’t obsess on it.

  3. OS: There probably would have been an alternative way of authenticating the recording available, but the burden would be on the prosecution to provide that testimony. It is my understanding that the victim refused to testify, so that option was unavailable. In any event, in the absence of testimony legally sufficient to authenticate the recording, the judge properly refused to consider it. A judge who ignores the rules of evidence because of who the defendant is or what the charges would be a very bad judge.

  4. blhlls,
    Now that is an interesting concept. To keep a videotape of bad behavior out, just don’t show up for court. I have an idea there were plenty of people at the police department who could authenticate the recording, given that it has time and date information embedded in the picture. Also, the victims would have been able to testify that the video was a ‘true and accurate representation’ of what happened.

  5. Lawyers rated her high in the category that applies here:

    Attorneys who responded to the survey questions rated Judge Burke on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing “not at all” and 5 representing “completely.”

    She received her highest scores for: efficiently managing her docket (4.48); maintaining and requiring proper order and decorum in the courtroom (4.45); and treating people equally regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status or other factor/displaying fairness and impartiality towards each side of the case (4.43).

    Judge Burke’s lower scores were for: efficiently using pretrial procedures to narrow and define the issues (4.27); stating reasons and applying substantive law in rulings on dispositive motion (4.28); and clearly explaining all oral decisions (4.29).

    (Theresa Counts Burke).

  6. Interesting that the judge is condemned without any information as to whether the recording was admissible. It is my understanding from other comments on the case that the prosecution expected to authenticate the recording with the testimony of the other officer present, but did not obtain the needed testimony. If testimony authenticating the recording was not provided, it would have been absolutely improper for the judge to view it. The popular condemnation of the judge for not considering inadmissible evidence is rather frightening.

  7. Judge Burke is an adjunct professor at Fontbonne University and teaches a class on the United States and Missouri constitutions

    What a gd joke that is

  8. That is a disturbing video. I do not know what the officers were looking for, but the teen’s shirt was pulled back over his arms by the police and then he was cold cocked by the officer. Not only does this officer need to be in jail, but the judge’s indifference is criminal. She needs to be off the bench and an investigation into any connection she may have with this so-called peace officer.

  9. For the fans of Hogan’s Heroes, this woman is the granddaughter of Sgt. Schultz.

  10. Once again the police thugs get away with using excessive force against a helpless victim. These semi literate morons never seem to get punished for a clear violation of a citizen’s rights.

  11. Reblogged this on euzicasa and commented:
    Above their own laws: How is it possible? But then, if you don’t punch someone when is down…when are you going to? Animals don’t know any better!

  12. Why should a judge look at evidence? She already knew he wasn’t guilty. He is a police officer if he did it its legal! Isn’t that the new law?

  13. One has to wonder about her motives, or is she just lazy? Over the years I have known many judges, and am often bemused by the number of them who were motivated to run for judge because they were such incompetent lawyers they could not make a living in private practice, nor would a big law firm hire them. I have one in mind whose primary qualification seems to be that he looks like a judge, straight out of Central Casting.

  14. I think again that the bar needs to remove the license of this judge. This is such an egregious abuse of power, that she should not be a member of the bar. It is also time for lawyers to stand up against their own bad apples and kick people like this judge out of the legal profession. It should not be up to the voters to do it alone.

  15. Thank you Professor, for reporting to your great audience, this case and issues of abuse of power. Bad faith hates exposure to the light of day; because justice may then actually find a way.

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