Protests erupt in St. Louis over ex-of­fi­cer’s ac­quit­tal

Af­ter vi­o­lent events overnight, oth­ers try calm dis­rup­tion

The Arizona Republic - - USA TODAY - Sam Clancy and Brandie Piper

UNIVER­SITY CITY, MO. Demon­stra­tors protest­ing the ac­quit­tal of a white former po­lice of­fi­cer in the killing of a black man in 2011 marched through West County Mall on Satur­day af­ter­noon chant­ing “Black lives mat­ter!” and “No jus­tice, no peace!” Af­ter leav­ing West County, they moved to Ch­ester­field Mall and then the Taste of St. Louis, car­ry­ing the same mes­sage of protest.

The demon­stra­tions in this St. Louis sub­urb fol­lowed a night of protests that at times turned vi­o­lent. A num­ber of busi­nesses were van­dal­ized, 11 po­lice of­fi­cers were in­jured, and 32 peo­ple were ar­rested.

A spokesper­son for the St. Louis Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice De­part­ment said in a state­ment that nine St. Louis of­fi­cers, one Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol trooper and one St. Louis County of­fi­cer were hurt Fri­day night. One of the city of­fi­cers was hit with a brick. O’Toole said the in­juries to St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cers in­clude a pos­si­ble bro­ken jaw

and a dis­lo­cated shoul­der.

The band U2 can­celed its Satur­day night con­cert in St. Louis be­cause the po­lice de­part­ment said it wouldn’t be able to pro­vide its stan­dard pro­tec­tion for the event, or­ga­niz­ers said.

For weeks, ac­tivists had been threat­en­ing civil dis­obe­di­ence if Ja­son Stock­ley, a former St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer, were ac­quit­ted of mur­der for killing An­thony La­mar Smith fol­low­ing a high-speed chase.

Stock­ley was charged with first-de­gree mur­der and armed crim­i­nal ac­tion in May 2016, about 41⁄ years af­ter shoot­ing 2 and killing Smith on Dec. 11, 2011. Stock­ley opted for a bench trial — with­out a jury — be­fore vet­eran Cir­cuit Judge Ti­mothy Wil­son.

On Fri­day, Wil­son made his de­ci­sion, find­ing Stock­ley not guilty on both counts.

At the trial, Stock­ley tes­ti­fied that he saw the 24-year-old Smith hold­ing a sil­ver re­volver as he sped away at the start of the chase. He said when he shot Smith, he felt he was in im­mi­nent dan­ger.

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 po­lice car 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.

Stock­ley’s lawyer dis­missed the com­ment as “hu­man emo­tions” ut­tered dur­ing a danger­ous pur­suit.

In his de­ci­sion, Wil­son wrote that the state­ment “can be am­bigu­ous de­pend­ing on the con­text.”

Wary of the protests that broke out in 2014 in nearby Fer­gu­son over the killing of Michael Brown by a po­lice of­fi­cer, author­i­ties took pre­cau­tions in St. Louis. Bar­ri­cades were erected around po­lice head­quar­ters and the court­house, among other sites, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the ver­dict.

Demon­stra­tors went to the mall Satur­day af­ter gath­er­ing in He­man Park to dis­cuss their next move.

“There’s only two things this sys­tem un­der­stands: money and eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth. The sec­ond, we’re not en­gaged in, so we have to af­fect this sys­tem eco­nom­i­cally. To­day, we are go­ing to shut down a mall.” Demon­stra­tor Amir Bradley

“Eco­nom­i­cally, we’ve been excluded,” said one demon­stra­tor, Amir Bradley. “There’s only two things this sys­tem un­der­stands: money and eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth. The sec­ond, we’re not en­gaged in, so we have to af­fect this sys­tem eco­nom­i­cally. To­day, we are go­ing to shut down a mall.”

In St. Louis, protests late Fri­day were mostly peace­ful un­til demon­stra­tors spat­tered red paint on St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krew­son’s home and broke a win­dow, prompt­ing riot po­lice to lob tear gas to dis­perse crowds.

On Fri­day, af­ter the ver­dict, Al Watkins, at­tor­ney for Smith’s fi­ancée and daugh­ter, said the fam­ily is dev­as­tated and ap­palled by the judge’s rul­ing.

Cir­cuit At­tor­ney Kimberly Gard­ner said she was dis­ap­pointed by the judge’s de­ci­sion be­cause prose­cu­tors pre­sented suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence of guilt.


Pro­test­ers march through the streets of St. Louis on Fri­day fol­low­ing the ac­quit­tal of former po­lice of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley, charged with first­de­gree mur­der last year in the death of An­thony La­mar Smith in 2011.

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