St. Louis marchers protest ex-cop’s ac­quit­tal

Boston Herald - - NEWS -

ST. LOUIS — Noisy de­mon­stra­tors marched through two malls in an up­scale area of sub­ur­ban St. Louis yes­ter­day to protest the ac­quit­tal of a white for­mer St. Louis cop in the shoot­ing of a black man, pick­ing up af­ter a night of mostly peace­ful demon­stra­tions that es­ca­lated into scat­tered acts of van­dal­ism and violence.

A few hun­dred peo­ple walked through West County Cen­ter in Des Peres, an up­scale com­mu­nity west of St. Louis, loudly chant­ing slo­gans such as “black lives mat­ter” and “it is our duty to fight for our free­dom” to de­cry the judge’s ver­dict Fri­day clear­ing ex-St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley of first-de­gree mur­der in the 2011 shoot­ing death of An­thony La­mar Smith. A short time later, they demon­strated at Ch­ester­field Mall and at a fes­ti­val fea­tur­ing restau­rant food from across the re­gion. No ar­rests were re­ported at any of the demon­stra­tions.

The mall protests fol­lowed rau­cous day­time marches in down­town St. Louis and through the city’s posh Cen­tral West End area dur­ing the night. Protesters were mak­ing it clear, they said, that the en­tire re­gion, not just pre­dom­i­nantly black ar­eas of St. Louis, should feel un­com­fort­able with the ver­dict and its im­pact.

“I don’t think racism is go­ing to change in Amer­ica un­til peo­ple get un­com­fort­able,” said Kayla Reed of the St. Louis Ac­tion Coun­cil, a protest or­ga­nizer.

Su­sanna Prins, a 27-yearold white woman from Univer­sity City, an­other St. Louis sub­urb, car­ried a sign read­ing, “White si­lence is violence.”

“Not say­ing or do­ing any­thing makes you com­plicit in the bru­tal­iza­tion of our friends and neigh­bors,” Prins said.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice said yes­ter­day it will not open a new civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the case. The head of the NAACP St. Louis had asked for a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman Lau­ren Ehrsam said the depart­ment con­cluded in Septem­ber 2016 that ev­i­dence did not sup­port prose­cu­tion un­der crim­i­nal civil rights statutes, but did not an­nounce it pub­licly un­til now to avoid im­pact­ing the state crim­i­nal case.

The civil dis­obe­di­ence fol­lowed the ac­quit­tal of Stock­ley for fa­tally shoot­ing Smith, 24, af­ter the sus­pected drug dealer crashed his car fol­low­ing a chase.

Stock­ley tes­ti­fied that he saw Smith hold­ing a sil­ver re­volver as he sped away and felt he was in im­mi­nent dan­ger as he was ap­proach­ing the ve­hi­cle later.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Stock­ley planted a gun in Smith’s car af­ter the shoot­ing — Stock­ley’s DNA was on the weapon but Smith’s wasn’t. Dash­cam video from Stock­ley’s cruiser cap­tured him say­ing he was “go­ing to kill this (ex­ple­tive), don’t you know it.” Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.

St. Louis Cir­cuit Judge Ti­mothy Wil­son said pros­e­cu­tors didn’t prove be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that Stock­ley mur­dered Smith or that the of­fi­cer didn’t act in self-de­fense. In an in­ter­view with the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch af­ter the ver­dict, Stock­ley, 36, said he un­der­stands how video of the shoot­ing looks bad, but that he did noth­ing wrong. Stock­ley left St. Louis’ po­lice force in 2013 and moved to Hous­ton.

COURTESY PHOTO, IN­SET; AP PHOTO

‘GET UN­COM­FORT­ABLE’: Protesters gather Fri­day in St. Louis af­ter a judge found a white for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer not guilty of first-de­gree mur­der in the death of An­thony La­mar Smith, in­set.

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