Understanding when, to what extent, and in which contexts high-profile police actions influence trust in and legitimacy of the police is important because public perceptions are associated with cooperation, compliance and, eventually, trust in the state itself. The current study uses a quasi-experimental design to assess changes in public attitudes toward the police after the violent police dispersal of a protest movement against a new railway station project in Stuttgart, Germany on September 30, 2010. We found little to no change in several dimensions of perceptions of police and legitimacy, specifically measures of trust in police, moral alignment, procedural fairness, and obligation to obey the police. However, respondents interviewed after the event saw the police as more unduly influenced by political pressure. The results suggest that the impact of high-profile incidents of police violence may depend on institutional context, media response, and post-incident reconciliation strategies.