Erica Hunzinger

Erica Hunzinger brings several years of editing experience to the politics and education team. Before landing in St. Louis, Erica spent five years on The Associated Press' Central Region desk, handling a wide variety of topics with special emphasis on state government and agriculture and food supply. She also has been a sports copy editor at The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, and an assistant news editor at The News Journal in Delaware. Erica holds a master's degree in humanities from the University of Chicago (poetry) and bachelor's in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. If you can't find her, try looking at Busch Stadium — or any other ball diamond in the region.

The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit Friday against St. Louis and St. Clair County for alleged police misconduct during 2015 protests after Mansur Ball-Bey was fatally shot by police.

The lawsuit claims officers used excessive force on protesters by “shooting tear gas and pepper spray at them though they were unarmed, non-threatening, non-violent, non-resisting and not suspected of committing any crime.”

National, state and local elected officials have weighed in on the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer who fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. with comment from St. Clair County state's attorney — President Donald Trump’s election commission is bent on restricting Americans’ right to vote, members of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition said Tuesday.

The statements came the same day the Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity met in New Hampshire. The commission, headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was set up in May. It asked states to send in voter registration records.

Though the timing of the verdict in the Jason Stockley case is unknown, Mayor Lyda Krewson called Tuesday for understanding and calm.

Krewson put out a video in which she said she doesn’t know when a judge will decide whether Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, is guilty of murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with ACLU comment — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

Missouri will use two of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams’ included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.

Updated at 5 p.m. with comment from Williams' lawyer, governor's office — The Missouri Supreme Court will not stop next week's scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams, it said Tuesday. 

Updated at 4:45 p.m. to correct that the ruling may have violated Johnson's constitutional rights — A federal lawsuit filed by Dorian Johnson against the city of Ferguson, former officer Darren Wilson and former police Chief Thomas Jackson can go forward, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

June’s arrival heralded a new era for elections in Missouri, one in which voters are expected to show identification before filling out a ballot.

Any new law stirs up questions — especially when similar measures in other states make headlines again and again.

Updated at 12:40 p.m. with comment from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft — Civil rights groups sued the state of Missouri on Thursday over the funding for its voter ID law, which went into effect June 1.

 

The lawsuit filed in Cole County Circuit Court argues that Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office is not providing “mandated funding for voter education, free voter IDs and birth certificates and training of poll workers.” The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, the national ACLU and civil rights group Advancement Project on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the League of Women Voters.

The University of Missouri System will cut more than 470 positions across its four campuses, President Mun Choi said Friday.

More than half of those will be at the flagship Columbia campus, while the University of Missouri-St. Louis will see 30 positions eliminated. However, UMSL spokesman Bob Sample said, 25 jobs will be added in new areas.

A day before Missouri’s new voter ID law takes effect, a coalition of civil rights groups and Democratic politicians warned Wednesday that the law could disenfranchise minority voters and older people.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, whose office oversees elections, scoffed at the concerns, arguing that “if you’re a registered voter, you’ll be able to vote.”

Updated at 4:15 p.m. with Kansas City Star receiving comment from Chambers — Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf has his hands in a lot of important legislation this session, yet he’s still made time to criticize Republican Gov. Eric Greitens over his new nonprofit.

A New Missouri Inc., which isn’t beholden to campaign finance laws and doesn’t have to disclose its donors, is fighting back, publishing a digital ad this week that says the St. Joseph Republican is “siding with liberals” and “playing personal political games.”

Democrats and Republicans who make up the St. Louis area’s congressional delegation say they support President Donald Trump’s decision to use missiles against a Syrian airbase after this week’s chemical weapons attack that killed dozens.

 

Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told St. Louis radio station KTRS that the action shows “the president listens … learns” and is “willing to look at new circumstances in a new way.” Missouri U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner chided the Obama administration on Friday for allowing the Syrian crisis to become “the largest war in this century,” adding, “the United States can no longer sit idly by.”

St. Louis County will get an estimated $80 million a year for policing and public safety efforts after voters approved Proposition P on Tuesday.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. with Rauner administration response — An anti-abortion law firm has sued Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state of Illinois over a law that requires medical providers to tell pregnant patients that an abortion is an option.

 

The lawsuit, filed last week by the Thomas More Society, claims the provision in the Health Care Right of Conscience Act that took effect in January, is unconstitutional and violates religious rights. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction.

St. Louis County voters are being tasked with another request for public funding, this time a half-cent sales tax increase for policing efforts in the April election.

Officials say they’re certain that the measure, which is estimated to bring in $80 million a year, is vital for public safety both in the county and in municipalities. But some communities aren’t sure they’ll benefit much.