Officer accused of pointing gun is charged
April 3, 2008
By Heather Ratcliffe and Carolyn Tuft

ST. LOUIS -- A St. Louis County police officer accused of pointing his gun at a parking lot attendant during the St. Patrick's Day parade was charged Wednesday with third-degree assault.

St. Louis City prosecutors charged Ryan O'Connor, 34, with the misdemeanor after reviewing the incident, which happened about 1 p.m. March 17 on a parking lot in the 6600 block of Manchester Road.

The lot manager, Ousseynou Ba, 40, a native of Senegal, West Africa, told police that O'Connor pulled the gun after he told the officer that he could not park where he wanted.

County Police Department spokeswoman Tracy Panus said her department is also reviewing the incident.

O'Connor, of the 1400 block of Payaso Court in south St. Louis County, remains on active duty as a patrolman until the internal investigation and criminal case are concluded, Panus said.

In an interview with the Post-Dispatch, Ba said bystanders called police to the lot after they heard the off-duty officer use racial slurs and saw the officer point the gun at Ba. A report released by the city police department backs up Ba's version.

Ba said that the lot allowed those attending the parade to park there. But the space the officer wanted to use was a reserved employee spot roped off with yellow tape.

Ba said he confronted O'Connor, who identified himself as a police officer, flashed his badge and began using racial slurs when the parking manager did not relent.

The officer was holding a baby and had a young child next to him when he walked back to his car and then pointed a small, silver gun in Ba's face, Ba said.

Ba said the officer got back into his car and pulled it to an unreserved spot on the lot, and he and his family left.

O'Connor was not available for comment. He is the son of Maryland Heights Police Chief Tom O'Connor, who also could not be reached for comment.