Police Arrest Co-Owner of Missouri Gay Bar After Their Car Crashes Into It

The incident at Bar:PM, a gay bar in St. Louis, Missouri, has garnered significant attention due to its unusual and contentious nature. On the night of the incident, Chad Morris, the co-owner of Bar:PM, was closing the establishment when a police patrol car crashed through the front of the bar. The events that unfolded thereafter led to Morris facing criminal charges.

According to the police report, Morris reacted to the crash by screaming obscenities at the arriving officers. When one officer instructed Morris to step back to secure the scene, Morris allegedly struck the officer in the chest, causing him to lose balance.

The situation escalated when Morris reportedly attempted to flee, pushing a trash can at another officer. Consequently, Morris was initially charged with third-degree assault on an officer, a felony, which was later reduced to fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He also faced a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

However, the narrative surrounding the crash and the ensuing confrontation is contested. Witnesses and James Pence, Morris’s husband, who lives above the bar, have disputed the police’s account of events. Pence was asleep when the crash happened and came downstairs after feeling the building shake.

The officer driving the patrol car initially apologized, explaining that he swerved to avoid hitting a dog. However, the situation took a turn when Pence was handcuffed after refusing to show his ID to an officer, although he was not arrested or charged.

The confrontation between Morris and the officers is described differently by Pence. He alleges that the physical altercation began when the officers “went for” Morris, leading to Morris raising his arm in what was perceived as an assault.

Javad Khazaeli, the couple’s attorney, expressed intent to seek accountability and dismissal of all charges against Morris, criticizing the police officers’ response to the incident as a form of victimization.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones acknowledged the incident, stating that it was under investigation.

The incident raises broader questions about police interactions and accountability, especially in situations involving vulnerable or marginalized communities. The bar, known as a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, saw friends and patrons gather to help clean up and protect the site following the incident. Bar:PM reopened shortly after, underscoring the resilience and solidarity of the community in the face of adversity​​.

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