Former St. Louis Police Officer Accused Of Planting A Gun On Black Man He Killed Acquitted, Protests Begin
"I pray for my city, because my people tired of this," Michael Brown's father said.
September 15, 2017 at 6:06 pm
It seems like a combination of “forever ago” and “just yesterday” that we all witnessed the turmoil following the vedict in Ferguson concerning Michael Brown's death.
Now, St. Louis is experiencing that nightmare all over again just one month after the third anniversary of Brown's death.
Former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer Jason Stockley was charged by prosecutors last year for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011.
Cut to today: circuit court judge Timothy Wilson has acquitted the officer of the murder charge and an additional charge of armed criminal action, according to the Washington Post. Wilson wrote that he was “simply not firmly convinced” of Stockley’s guilt after “agonizingly” going over the case’s evidence over and over.
According to a probable cause statement submitted to the court, Stockley was heard saying he was "going to kill this motherf*cker, don't you know it," talking about Smith.
Smith was killed after a police chase; Stockley instructed a fellow officer to ram Smith's car after Smith had begun to slow down.
After Smith came to a stop, Stockley approached Smith's window, and fired five shots into the car. All five shots hit Smith, and he died of his wounds.
A gun was later found in Smith’s car, but only contained Stockley’s DNA, leading some to believe he had planted the weapon.
Wilson came to his decision in part due to available dash cam footage. The clip shows Stockley approaching the car with his hand on his gun. The officer then can be “wrestling” with something at the window of Smith's car before firing off the shots.
Stockley claimed that he fired fearing for his safety. A medical examiner confirmed that Smith had been shot five times with one going through his heart, but couldn’t confirm whether or not he had been reaching for anything at the time.
Wilson said that not enough evidence had been given to show that Stockley planted the gun, and that because he didn't approach Smith's car with his gun drawn, his actions weren't "consistent with the conduct of a person intentionally killing another person unlawfully."
Of course, the city expects community unrest following the verdict and is prepared for it.
"We know this verdict causes pain for many people," said Governor Eric Greitens, noting that Missouri’s National Guard was on standby. "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 called for peaceful protest. "If you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel. And whatever comes to you, just do it in a peaceful way."
"I pray for my city, because my people tired of this," Michael Brown's father, Michael Brown, Sr. told Reuters.
St. Louis police chief Lawrence M. O’Toole echoed these sentiments, asking that protests are done peacefully even though he knows “emotions are running high.”
"People have been asking me, 'Is it safe to go here or there?' and I tell them to continue to live their lives, just be aware of the larger issues the protesters are trying to call attention to. These issues have to be addressed." said O'Toole, according to the St. Louis American. "They are trying to shine the light on the injustices they see and feel."
Shortly after the acquittal announcement, demonstrators were seen marching and encouraging others to join them.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson expressed her disappointment about in the verdict in a written statement. "I am sobered by this outcome. Frustration, anger, hurt, pain, hope and love all intermingle," she wrote. "I will continue my work to create a more equitable community."
Missouri State Representative Michael Butler (D-St. Louis) was pointed in his reaction to the verdict.
Butler said he was “appalled” by decision, and that the verdict was “another slap in the face to the black community in St. Louis” as well as a “shot in the heart to the family of the victim.”
"This system and all the politicians calling for peace are ignoring the pain this verdict causes our communities. Anthony Lamar Smith is dead from a violent act and you want us to be peaceful? You want us to not feel anger? The very people paid to protect us are killing us, paid to make peace are perpetuating violence, and we are supposed to be peaceful?" Butler said. "We will be non-violent but we will not settle on peace. No justice. No peace."
Stockley’s team of attorneys has yet to release a comment.