Chaos erupted during embattled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s press conference on Thursday after Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey took legal action to have her removed from office, citing negligence of her duties, with one attendee yelling out that Gardner was facing ‘race harassment.’
Gardner held a press conference following the public outcry against her for the handling of a prosecution of 21-year-old Daniel Riley, who was out on bail after violating his bond multiple times. Riley over the weekend struck teenager Janae Edmondson, who was visiting St. Louis with her family on Saturday for a volleyball tournament. Police say Riley was speeding, failed to yield and caused a collision, ultimately striking and pinning Edmondson, who remains in the hospital after both her legs were amputated after sustaining injuries from the crash.
‘Can you stop the race harassment … what do you have to stop the racist people from harassing you and intimidating you? And it still comes from not the federal government, but we know we have no friends in Jefferson City,’ one person shouted after Gardner gave her opening remarks. Jefferson City is the state capital, home to the attorney general’s office.
A moderator stepped in, saying, ‘Ask your question, bro. We not going to need a speech. We’re going to take a couple of, three questions and that’s it.’
‘We’re in this right now if you all can speak cordial and civilized,’ the moderator said, talking over yells from multiple reporters.
Gardner eventually responded, saying, ‘Well, I think that’s a very complex question. It’s about the people of the city of St. Louis that elected me to do a job. And what we have to do is do our job fairly and justly. There are numerous attacks on our office. There are numerous individuals that have an agenda to make sure that my office does not succeed.’
‘That is not an excuse. But at the same time, we know we do not control every part of the system. But what we can control is we’re going to fight very hard for justice in spite of the vitriol, the hate, the racist attacks, the known manipulation of the court procedures to make sure our office fails,’ Gardner said.
Another reporter asked why, after Gardner claimed that her office had asked a court judge multiple times to revoke bond on the individual who eventually was let out on bail and caused the accident that left a teenage girl in critical condition, that there was no court record of that request. Before Gardner could answer, there was an audible kerfuffle among reporters and attendees.
‘First of all, there are, we have what’s called oral motions to revoke bond. Those can be made orally or written, and in this jurisdiction, they are made orally and that is normal practice and that was done in this case on numerous occasions,’ she replied.
Another raucous ensued before a person asked, ‘How is it that the media organizations who are responsible for researching these cases before they get on the news and start spewing facts got this so wrong, since Judge Hittenbock was responsible for the bond which ultimately set the young man free who injured the young lady?’
‘In the end of the day, we all know the facts. I want to focus on Miss Janae Edmonson and her family because we all can point fingers, but this young lady’s life is affected by the criminal justice system right now. And we want to hold this individual accountable. But I’m not going to point blame to anybody,’ Gardner said.
‘The buck stops with my office, and we did our job. As I said, could we do more? We could. But did we not do nothing? That is not true,’ she continued.
A reporter then asked Gardner’s reaction to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones saying that the public has lost confidence in her, after which yells from the room erupted.
At one point someone could be heard, ‘We’re here to support her and stand behind her 100%,’ followed by applause.
Gardner eventually responded, ‘First of all, I’m going to focus on the people who elected me, that people have a process if they do not, no longer want me in this office. And that’s called an election. And so I cannot speak for the people and I will not address anything that the mayor said because I think the people should speak for themselves.’
Gardner was asked to respond to Bailey’s legal petition to have her removed from her post, to which she replied, ‘The attorney general, as others use this unfortunate incident and tragic happening to this young lady as a political stunt of an unelected individual,’ adding that ‘this is nothing more than voter suppression, which we’ve seen on a national level as well as in the state of Missouri.’
Bailey was appointed attorney general in November 2022 by Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons after former AG Eric Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate.
The press conference concluded with applause for Gardner from those in the room, with some heard saying, ‘We’ve got your back.’ Others broke out into a chant: ‘No justice, no peace.’