A judge in St. Louis found Jason Stockley, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer, not guilty of murder in September. Stockley was on trial for shooting and killing Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
Stockley, who was caught on tape saying that he was “going to kill this motherf er, don't you know it,” was accused of approaching Smith’s vehicle and firing five shots into the car, killing Smith on the spot.
Prosecutors also accused Stockley of planting a gun on Smith. (Investigators found a gun in Smith’s car, but the only DNA on it belonged to Stockley.)
Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted Stockley, saying he was “simply not firmly convinced” that the officer was guilty. The judge also said the prosecutors didn’t convince him that Stockley “did not act in self-defense.”
The decision sparked civil unrest around the courthouse, where schools had been shuttered and an extra police presence was on the streets in case protestors became violent.
Missouri governor Eric Greitens had also put the state’s National Guard on standby.
"We know this verdict causes pain for many people," Greitens said. "We have been in touch with city and county officials, and the state of Missouri will continue to assist them. I'm committed to protecting everyone's constitutional right to protest peacefully, while also protecting people's lives, homes, and communities. For anyone who protests, please do so peacefully."
Smith’s fiancée, Christina Wilson, also delivered a message to protestors: “If you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel,” she said. “And whatever comes to you, just do it in a peaceful way.”
Protestors did end up throwing rocks at Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home, smashed the front windshield of a police SUV, and caused minor damage in the area. Four officers were injured, but none were serious enough for the officers to visit the hospital; the police also used pepper spray on the crowds of protestors.
What Do You Think?
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