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
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.
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.
Protestors demonstrate following the verdict in St Louis, Missouri.