Cops Crashed a Car Into a Gay Bar Then Beat and Arrested the Owner: Lawyer

Videos appear to contest the St. Louis police’s version of events.
Chad Morris, co-owner of Bar:PM, said police beat him after crashing into his bar.
Chad Morris, co-owner of Bar:PM, said police beat him after crashing into his bar. Photos via Javad Khazaeli.

St. Louis, Missouri police crashed into a gay bar and then beat and arrested its owner early on Monday morning and charged him with felony assault, according to a lawyer representing the owner. 

Video released by attorney Javad Khazaeli shows a police SUV driving down a street at high speeds and then swerving into Bar:PM at around 12:30 a.m. Monday. Police initially said they swerved to miss a parked car. The video shows a parked car on the side of the road that is not the SUV’s path. 


After the crash, police handcuffed one of the bar’s owners James Pence and then arrested his husband and co-owner Chad Morris, charging him with felony assault and resisting arrest. One of the cops on scene, John Pierce, said in a probable cause statement that he was investigating the car accident when Morris refused to comply with his requests to back up, screamed obscenities, and hit him. 

“The defendant struck me hard in the chest with an open hand, causing me to temporarily lose my balance,” Pierce alleged. He said Morris then tried to flee into a gangway when he told him he was under arrest and “attempted to strike me with the gate.” 

Morris was detained for 36 hours, but prosecutors have since downgraded his assault charge to a misdemenour assault and he was released Tuesday morning on his own recognizance. Morris had scratches on his face and a black eye when he was released . 

“I'm really glad to be out and it's been an emotional time,” he told reporters as he left the St. Louis City Justice Center. 

Khazaeli showed VICE News portions of a bystander video of the aftermath of the crash, which appears to dispute police’s version of events. 

St. Louis police did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment. 

The video shows an officer asking Pence for his identification after the crash, to which Pence responds, “you cannot card me.” The officer tells Pence to “stop yelling” and also tells the bystander taking the video, “He’s not going to yell at me, that’s causing a disturbance.” Police handcuff Pence. 


“Keep interfering, you’ll be in handcuffs too, clown,” the officer tells the bystander. 

The video also shows Morris asking police why they’re handcuffing his husband. Pierce alleged Morris hit him before going into the gangway, causing him to lose his balance. The video does not show that happening. 

The video doesn’t show what happened in the gangway, which is when Morris alleged police hit him. 

“This motherfucker in the black beanie punched me in the fucking face,” he says, referring to the same officer who called the bystander a “clown.” 

Then police arrest Morris and load him into their van. 

Khazaeli said the prosecutor’s office still hasn’t requested any of the footage available. He said they will either have to drop the misdemeanour assault charge or his client will go to trial. 

“His whole body was sore and he had bruises in other parts of his body,” Khazaeli said. 

“This is all in the context of my guys doing nothing wrong and somebody slamming a car through their business.”

He said it’s not clear if St. Louis police have done anything about the two officers involved in the crash, nor if the officers were given a breathalyser or drug tested. According to the Riverfront Times, the driver is a 32-year-old probationary officer who’s been with St. Louis police for less than a year. 

“If this had been a few hours earlier when the bar was open, somebody would have died,” Khazaeli said.