Officer speaks out after judge’s verdict
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.
Demonstrators march through the West County Center mall protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley on Saturday in St. Louis.