Ex-cop’s ac­quit­tal sparks clashes in St Louis

Nine city of­fi­cers, state trooper in­jured after white for­mer po­lice­man was found not guilty of mur­der­ing black sus­pect

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Po­lice fired tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets dur­ing clashes with pro­test­ers in St Louis early yes­ter­day after a white for­mer po­lice­man was ac­quit­ted of mur­der­ing a black sus­pect.

A peace­ful rally over Fri­day’s not guilty ver­dict turned vi­o­lent after po­lice con­fronted a small group of demon­stra­tors — three years after the shoot­ing of an­other black sus­pect in the nearby sub­urb of Fer­gu­son stirred na­tion­wide anger and de­bate.

Of­fi­cers fired tear gas as peo­ple broke win­dows at a li­brary and two restau­rants and threw bricks and wa­ter bot­tles at of­fi­cers. Pro­test­ers also threw rocks and paint at the home of St Louis Mayor Lyda Krew­son, said Act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Lawrence O’Toole.

Nine city of­fi­cers and a state trooper were in­jured and at least 23 peo­ple were taken into cus­tody, he said.

For­mer city po­lice­man Ja­son Stock­ley, 36, was found not guilty of the first-de­gree mur­der of An­thony La­mar Smith, 24, shot to death on De­cem­ber 20, 2011.

After the rul­ing, around 600 pro­test­ers marched from the court­house through down­town St. Louis, chant­ing “No jus­tice, no peace” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! Th­ese killer cops have got to go!” Some held ‘Black Lives Mat­ter’ signs.

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

After Fri­day’s ver­dict, one group of demon­stra­tors tried to climb onto In­ter­state 40 but was blocked by po­lice. An­other group blocked an in­ter­sec­tion by sit­ting down in the street for six min­utes of si­lence.

After most pro­test­ers drifted away, a smaller group of peo­ple po­lice de­scribed as “ag­i­ta­tors” lin­gered on the streets in an up­scale neigh­bour­hood near the mayor’s house.

Smith was shot five times in his car after try­ing to flee Stock­ley and his part­ner, fol­low­ing an al­leged drug deal, author­i­ties said.

Pros­e­cu­tors said that dur­ing the pur­suit, Stock­ley could be heard say­ing on an in­ter­nal po­lice car video he was go­ing to kill Smith. At Stock­ley’s di­rec­tion, his part­ner, who was driv­ing, slammed the po­lice cruiser into Smith’s ve­hi­cle and they came to a stop. Stock­ley then ap­proached Smith’s car and opened fire with his ser­vice weapon, court doc­u­ments said.

The for­mer po­lice­man be­lieved Smith was armed, de­fence at­tor­neys said, and a gun was found in the car. But pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued Stock­ley planted the weapon and that the gun had only Stock­ley’s DNA on it.

Reuters

Pro­test­ers chant out­side the court­house after the not guilty ver­dict was an­nounced in the mur­der trial of Ja­son Stock­ley, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, charged with the 2011 shoot­ing of An­thony La­mar Smith, in St Louis, Mis­souri, on Fri­day.

AFP

Pro­tes­tors demon­strate fol­low­ing the ver­dict in St Louis, Mis­souri.

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