"I'm about done with this crap": Documents, voicemail show prosecutors pressured detective into signing off on McCloskey charges

If police determined that at least one person in the mob on Mark and Patricia McCloskey’s property was armed, another labeled “Human Shield,” and several issued threats against the couple … then why were they charged at all? Local NBC affiliate KSDK reported last week that documents and a voicemail show that Kimberly Gardner’s office pressured the lead detective on the case to “quickly reassess this evidence,” and when that didn’t work, threatened his supervisor with bad publicity unless the detective relented. That puts the prosecution of the McCloskeys in an even more questionable light — and likely makes it impossible to boot (via Tom Knighton at Bearing Arms):

The lead St. Louis police detective investigating the McCloskey case refused to sign at least two versions of court documents prosecutors drafted, according to a review of those documents obtained by 5 On Your Side.

In addition, police contend at least one person in the crowd was armed and another was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, after analyzing videos taken June 28, when the couple confronted protesters with guns. …

The documents obtained by 5 On Your Side include an email Gardner’s Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley sent to the lead investigator on the case, Sgt. Curtis Burgdorf. Hinckley emailed police the day before the McCloskeys were served with a search warrant, stating it needed to happen “now.”

“At this point, everything points to these weapons being real and loaded, but no one has asked or confirmed,” he wrote. “Come trial, they’ll say they were waiving around a BB gun and an air rifle.”

He followed up with a voicemail:

5 On Your Side also obtained a voice mail Hinckley left Burgdorf after he wrote his response to Burgdorf’s objections.

On it, he states: “Curtis, you need to call me back. I wrote a long email to you trying to ask a bunch of questions about whatever it is you said some was (expletive). Now we need to straighten this out because I’m about done with this crap. Call me back.”

When that didn’t work, Hinckley went over Burgdorf’s head. That included a thinly veiled threat to go public in attacking the police for not complying with Gardner’s interpretation of the evidence, no small matter in a time when riots were taking place in cities across the country:

Hinckley also wrote to Burgdorf’s commander, Maj. Angela Coonce.

“Our office is receiving inquiries from the public and press about a warrant application and potential charges. We’ve thus far said the matter ‘remains under investigation.’ I’d really like to avoid pointing to a police follow-up request as the hold-up, but I won’t control the messaging if this goes on any longer. Please see what you can do to help this along. Again, I’m asking for priority on the firearms issue.”

Burgdorf had a list of fourteen concerns with Hinckley’s probable-cause statement, KSDK reports. Burgdorf eventually got most of the issues resolved in his favor, but not without a lot of angry retorts from Hinckley, who wanted immediate action in order to file charges. That raises one important question: What was the urgency?

For that, let’s return to John Sexton’s post last week:

Wednesday an attorney for Mark & Patricia McCloskey filed two motions to have St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner disqualified from their case. The twin motions allege that Gardner used their case for campaign fundraising both before and after charges against them were filed.

The election took place yesterday, just days after Gardner and Hinckley strong-armed the police department into signing off on the probable-cause statement. Guess who won?

Want to bet that the first line of defense for the McCloskeys will be pointing out the political pressure exerted by Gardner’s office in relation to the primary two weeks out? Especially since Det. Burgdorf’s continuing investigation has produced evidence that the mob actually did threaten the McCloskeys, was armed, and broke the gate to get onto their private property? At some point, a judge should demand to know why Gardner and Hinckley rushed to judgment and threatened police to get an indictment before the investigation had reached an end.

That will only be a rhetorical question, of course. The answer is obvious now. But now it’s moot anyway, since Gardner got what she wanted out of the exercise — renomination, and a walkover in November. What a disgrace.