Of­fi­cer speaks out after judge’s ver­dict

Tampa Bay Times - - Nation & World - Los An­ge­les Times (TNS)

A day after a for­mer St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer was ac­quit­ted in the shoot­ing death of an un­armed black man, ten­sions re­mained high in the city and sur­round­ing sub­urbs on Satur­day as pro­test­ers gath­ered in parks and shop­ping malls.

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of ad­di­tional protests, the band U2 can­celed its Satur­day night con­cert in St. Louis.

The protests come after a judge found for­mer St. Louis Po­lice Of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley, who is white, not guilty of first­de­gree mur­der in the De­cem­ber 2011 shoot­ing of An­thony La­mar Smith.

Smith, 24, fled from Stock­ley and led him on a high-speed chase. Stock­ley said he be­lieved Smith was armed. A gun was dis­cov­ered in Smith’s car, but pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued that the of­fi­cers had put it there.

In his first pub­lic com­ments since the ver­dict, Stock­ley, 36, told the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch on Satur­day it felt as if “a bur­den has been lifted, but the bur­den of hav­ing to kill some­one never re­ally lifts.”

“The tak­ing of some­one’s life is the most sig­nif­i­cant thing one can do, and it’s not done lightly. … My main con­cern now is for the first re­spon­ders, the peo­ple just try­ing to go to work and the pro­test­ers. I don’t want any­one to be hurt in any way over this,” he said.

“I can feel for and I un­der­stand what the fam­ily is go­ing through, and I know ev­ery­one wants some­one to blame, but I’m just not the guy,” Stock­ley said.

Getty Im­ages

Demon­stra­tors march through the West County Cen­ter mall protest­ing the ac­quit­tal of for­mer St. Louis po­lice Of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley on Satur­day in St. Louis.

Stock­ley

Smith

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