Ex-of­fi­cer ac­quit­ted in slay­ing: ‘I did noth­ing wrong’

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Amy B Wang

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.

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