- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois State Police supervisor testified Thursday that he was “shocked” after watching a videotape of a colleague’s roadside strip search of a motorist during an East St. Louis traffic stop.

The bench trial of state trooper Corey Alberson, 33, on a felony charge of aggravated battery ended late Thursday night without a verdict by the St. Clair County judge, who gave prosecutors and Alberson’s defense lawyers another week to submit additional evidence.

Alberson, who pleaded not guilty and is suspended without pay, is accused of making “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature” by pulling down the pants of Anthony Campbell and examining his buttocks with a flashlight during the roadside stop in April 2014. Campbell, who wasn’t charged with any traffic violations, said he felt “disrespected” by the encounter with Alberson and a second trooper.

“I felt very insulted,” Campbell said during testimony. “I had never been treated like that by a police officer.”

Both Alberson and trooper Chris Currier, who was riding with Alberson, said they stopped Campbell based on a tip that a car the same color as the one Campbell was driving was delivering drugs to the liquor store where Campbell was headed. No drugs were found on Campbell, who has no criminal record.

Defense attorney John O’Gara said his client was simply doing his job “in one of the most dangerous areas of one of the most dangerous cities” in the country, a drug-ravaged area police referred to as “Vulture Alley.”

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly had previously said Alberson’s trial, which had been scheduled for early August, was postponed several weeks because of protests and other events in the nearby St. Louis region surrounding the one-year anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting.

The 18-year-old Brown, who was black, was shot and killed by a white police officer in August 2014 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. The officer, who later resigned, was not charged.

Race is not cited as a factor in the criminal complaint against Alberson, who is white, regarding the stop of Campbell, who is black, and was not mentioned by the two assistant prosecutors in court Thursday.

Instead, the state’s case focused on what prosecutors called a series of mistakes by Alberson, whom assistant state’s attorney Dan Lewis called a “bully with a badge” during closing arguments.

The traffic stop wasn’t reported to patrol dispatchers, prosecutors noted. Nor did Alberson activate a microphone on his belt as required by policy, which he attributed to a technical malfunction.

State law requires that strip searches, which are allowed only after an arrest and in cases where suspects are believed to have drugs or weapons, be approved by supervisors and conducted in private. Neither condition was met in Campbell’s case, prosecutors said.

Both Alberson and Currier testified that their suspicions were further heightened by what they called Campbell’s excessive willingness to cooperate.

Maj. Chris Trame, who reviewed the tape of the traffic stop and testified for the prosecution, said: “We’re the Illinois State Police. We don’t conduct ourselves in that fashion.”


Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at https://twitter.com/azagier

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