DID THE OFFICER’S OUTBURST INDICATE PREMEDITATION?
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.