Of­fi­cer cleared of US ‘mur­der’

Irish Examiner - - World News - Va­lerie Vol­covici

A Mis­souri judge has found a white for­mer St Louis po­lice of­fi­cer not guilty of mur­der in the shoot­ing death of a black man, stir­ring feelings of anger and frus­tra­tion in the black com­mu­nity.

The Na­tional Guard was placed on standby by Mis­souri Gover­nor Eric Gre­it­ens with of­fi­cials fear­ing the ver­dict could set off vi­o­lent protests, as in sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in­volv­ing po­lice and mi­nori­ties around the US in re­cent years.

Ja­son Stock­ley, 36, was ac­quit­ted of first-de­gree mur­der for killing An­thony La­mar Smith, 24. Stock­ley, who was ar­rested in May 2016 and ac­cused of plant­ing a gun in Smith’s car, tes­ti­fied he acted in self de­fence.

Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged that Stock­ley planted a gun in Smith’s car af­ter he shot him. The gun found in Smith’s car had the of­fi­cer’s DNA on it, but not his.

St Louis and state of­fi­cials were braced for vi­o­lent protests and racial ten­sions sim­i­lar to those that fol­lowed the 2014 fa­tal shoot­ing by po­lice of un­armed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, near St Louis.

“I’m sad, I’m hurt, I’m mad. But this was ex­pected. We haven’t made any progress since Ferguson, that’s clear. Cops can still kill us with im­punity,” said Rev­erend Clin­ton Stan­cil of the Way­man AME Church.

St Louis mayor Lyda Krew­son ap­pealed for calm.

“Frus­tra­tion, anger, hurt, pain, hope and love all in­ter­min­gle,” she said in a state­ment. I en­cour­age St Louisans to show each other com­pas­sion.”

Judge Ti­mothy Wil­son’s highly an­tic­i­pated rul­ing was an­nounced more than five weeks af­ter the bench trial ended.

“This court, as a trier of fact, is sim­ply not firmly con­vinced of de­fen­dant’s guilt,” the judge wrote in his rul­ing.

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