Ex-officer acquitted in slaying: ‘I did nothing wrong’
ST. LOUIS – Jason Stockley, the former St. Louis police officer who was acquitted of murder Friday in the 2011 fatal shooting of a black man, broke his months-long silence and doubled down on his innocence after the ruling.
“I did not murder Anthony Lamar Smith. I did not plant a gun,” Stockley said, shaking his head, in an exclusive interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after his acquittal. “... 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.”
The interview, which appeared to be videotaped in a private indoor space, came hours after a judge released a 30page order concluding as much: That the state had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley “did not act in selfdefense” when he shot and killed Smith, 24, during a car chase in December 2011.
It was the first time Stockley, who had been under a gag order, publicly addressed the case, which has exacerbated tensions in a region already grappling with unrest surrounding police use of force and race.
“It feels like a burden has been lifted, but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts,” Stockley told the Post-Dispatch. “The taking of a life is the most significant thing that one can do and it’s not something that is done lightly and it’s not something that should ever be celebrated. And it’s just a horrible experience altogether. But, sometimes, it’s necessary.”
As in trial, Stockley insisted he did not recall saying during the car chase he was “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it,” as outlined in court documents.
Prosecutors also noted that a gun found in Smith’s car was later found to contain only Stockley’s DNA, and accused the officer of planting the firearm.
Stockley said his memory was imperfect and that the first time he heard himself saying what he did in the car was when he met with the FBI; he could only speculate as to why he had said it, “whether it was in the heat of the moment or whether it was part of a larger conversation,” he said.
“I can tell you with absolute certainty that there was no plan to murder Anthony Smith during a high-speed vehicle pursuit,” Stockley told the newspaper. “It’s just not the case.”
Stockley acknowledged in his interview that the “optics” of the case looked bad but said he had made the best decisions possible “based on limited information and a limited amount of time.”
“Every resisting looks bad. They never look good,” Stockley told the Post-Dispatch.