DID THE OF­FI­CER’S OUT­BURST IN­DI­CATE PREMEDITATION?

Tampa Bay Times - - Nation & World -

Smith drove at speeds of up to 87 miles per hour on wet roads, en­dan­ger­ing other driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans. About 45 sec­onds be­fore the chase ended, po­lice dash­cam video cap­tured Stock­ley say­ing, “go­ing to kill this (ex­ple­tive), don’t you know it.”

Pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued that state­ment proved the of­fi­cer de­lib­er­ated about killing Smith even be­fore the pur­suit ended.

When ques­tioned about his state­ment at trial, Stock­ley said he could not re­mem­ber say­ing those words. The rul­ing noted Stock­ley tes­ti­fied he had not made a de­ci­sion to kill Smith and could not re­call the con­text in which the state­ment was made.

The judge said in his de­ci­sion that it was ap­par­ent from the dash­cam au­dio and video that the pur­suit was stress­ful, both be­cause of its high speed and the con­fu­sion caused by mul­ti­ple ra­dios and com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the dis­patcher.

“Peo­ple say all kinds of things in the heat of the mo­ment or while in stress­ful si­t­u­a­tions, and whether Stock­ley’s state­ment … con­sti­tuted a real threat of ac­tion or was a means of re­leas­ing ten­sion has to be judged by his sub­se­quent con­duct,” the judge wrote.

The court does not be­lieve the of­fi­cer’s con­duct fol­low­ing the end of the pur­suit is con­sis­tent with the con­duct of a per­son in­ten­tion­ally killing an­other per­son un­law­fully, Wil­son wrote. He noted tes­ti­mony by the state’s wit­nesses that Stock­ley or­dered Smith to open the door and show his hands.

It was not un­til 15 sec­onds after Stock­ley ar­rived the driver’s side door that he took his ser­vice weapon out of its hol­ster and fired sev­eral shots.

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