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St. Louis on edge after cop acquitted in killing of Black suspect

St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley (Photo credit: St. Louis Police)

In 2011, Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, was shot and killed by St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley after a high-speed chase. The incident started when Smith was observed allegedly engaged in an illegal drug transaction. During the attempt to apprehend Smith, the suspect’s car bumped into the police vehicle before speeding off.

A high-speed chase ensued and as Stockley is chasing Smith through the streets, he is heard on police dash cam audio saying “I’m going to kill this mother f—er.” Smith’s car later crashes and Stockley approaches the driver’s side and fires five rounds into Smith, killing the suspect.

Stockley claimed he saw Smith with a gun earlier during the drug deal and felt he was reaching for the weapon when the car crashed and he shot the suspect. During the initial investigation, Stockley claimed he recovered a loaded silver handgun in the vehicle between the center console and passenger’s seat. But police video shows Stockley going back to his police vehicle and placing his AK-47-style pistol into a duffel bag, a weapon which the officer was not authorized to carry. He is then seen going back to Smith’s car and entering the vehicle twice for several moments. Smith’s family says that Stockley planted the handgun that was found at the scene. Tests on the gun show that Stockley’s DNA was the only evidence present on the weapon, drawing doubt that Smith handled the weapon.

Stockley was later charged with murder and this week the trial finally ended with an acquittal. “This court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant’s guilt. Agonizingly, this court has poured over the evidence again and again. This court has viewed the video evidence from the restaurant’s surveillance camera, the cameras in the police vehicle, and the cellphone video by the lay witness, over and over again — innumerable times,” said Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson in explaining his decision.

St. Louis circuit Attorney Kim Gardner issued the following statement to the media after the verdict: “While officer-involved shooting cases are extremely difficult to prevail in court, I believe we offered sufficient evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley intended to kill Mr. Smith. However, in this case, it was the judge’s duty to evaluate the evidence and deliver his findings. That’s how our system works. I’m very proud of my team’s effort and commitment to the pursuit of justice on behalf of Mr. Smith’s family and the people of St. Louis.

“In light of the verdict, it’s time to take a harder look at how officer-involved shootings are addressed in our city. I understand and appreciate the many challenges that face our city’s police officers. It’s very noble work. However, we need further examination and clarity in the laws that govern the use of deadly force by police officers.”

The city has been on edge over the trial and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has placed the Missouri National Guard on standby over concerns of violent protests erupting.

1 Comment

  1. britishrosee on September 18, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    every time a black man is killed senseless they come up with all this loop holes and its all reflects back to the oath of cops , there is a hidden law somewhere that says , cops should not be found guilty unless there is no doubts at all that they were guilty , .. what more do you need , that camera saw him hide that gun, that is the highest of guilty and extortion this cop , is prime example why they are sure they will beat any case so this is why they keep killing. a snake can only bit once if you cut his head off hes done right? the justice system needs the head cut off these lies .
    we are sick of blacks being over looked and miss treated while whites laugh. and look at us like were the only ones committing crimes or like we are actually causing these murders .
    its so unfair , we have no justice system in america , proof is all the black men that done 20 to 40 years in prison and was freed by DNA later ? shame , and trust me it hundred more in there that would drain the cities around america budgets if someoone gets them out based on evidence . the innocent program get thousands of letter from black men swearing they innocent but they cant handle all the cases , no one want to pay these men thats a long time .. and yet all these cops are killing and escaping jail .,? makes no sense at all