Not Guilty Verdict In St. Louis, Riots Promised
Photo: Ex-St. Louis Jason Stockley was accused of planting a .38 Taurus revolver on the suspect.
A judge found a former St. Louis police officer not guilty of first-degree murder on Friday in the death of a black man who was fatally shot following a high-speed chase in 2011.
The former officer, Jason Stockley, shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times. The officer said he saw Smith holding a gun and felt he was in imminent danger, but prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after he shot him.
Prosecutors pointed to the fact that the suspect’s DNA was not present on the weapon but the Department of Justice, under President Obama, had declined to pursue charges.
Assistant Circuit Attorney Robert Steele emphasized during the trial that police dashcam video of the chase captured Stockley saying he was “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.” Less than a minute later, the officer fatally shot Smith. Stockley’s lawyer dismissed the comment as “human emotions” amid a dangerous police pursuit.
Stockley, 36, could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole. He left St. Louis’ police force in 2013 and moved to Houston.
Local activists threatened civil unrest ahead of the verdict prompting the Governor Eric Greitens to enact the National Guard.
Greitens met with and assured black faith leaders that peaceful protesters’ rights would be protected, but later stressed that violence would not be tolerated.