St. Louis protests against of­fi­cer’s ac­quit­tal to con­tinue

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By Jim Sal­ter

ST. LOUIS » Hun­dreds of peo­ple protest­ing the ac­quit­tal of a white for­mer St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer in the fatal shoot­ing of black man fol­low­ing a high-speed chase marched for hours in mostly peace­ful demon­stra­tions, un­til a bro­ken win­dow at the mayor’s home and es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions led riot-gear-clad of­fi­cers to lob tear gas to dis­perse the crowds.

Ac­tivists had for weeks threat­ened civil dis­obe­di­ence if Ja­son Stock­ley were not con­victed in the death of An­thony La­mar Smith, stir­ring fears of civil un­rest and the erect­ing of bar­ri­cades around po­lice head­quar­ters, the court­house where the trial was held and other po­ten­tial protest sites.

A racially di­verse crowd of protesters — some car­ry­ing weapons, as al­lowed by state law, and oth­ers tot­ing chil­dren and wav­ing posters — took to the streets within hours of Fri­day’s de­ci­sion.

More than 20 ar­rests were made by early evening, and some protesters were pep­per­sprayed dur­ing con­fronta­tions with au­thor­i­ties. St. Louis po­lice re­ported that 10 of­fi­cers had suf­fered in­juries by the end of the night, in­clud­ing a bro­ken jaw and dis­lo­cated shoul­der, and some jour­nal­ists re­ported be­ing the tar­get of threats from de­mon­stra­tors.

Ac­tivists said they would meet again Satur­day to plan fur­ther demon­stra­tions.

Stock­ley, who was charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the 2011 shoot­ing, had in­sisted he saw the 24-year-old Smith hold­ing a gun and felt he was in im­mi­nent danger. Pros­e­cu­tors said the of­fi­cer planted a gun in Smith’s car af­ter the shoot­ing.

In an in­ter­view with the St. Louis PostDis­patch, Stock­ley said he un­der­stands how video of the shoot­ing looks bad, but that he did noth­ing wrong.

“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,” he said.

Stock­ley, 36, re­quested his case be de­cided by a judge in­stead of a jury, an op­tion open to any de­fen­dant.

“This court, in con­science, can­not say that the State has proven ev­ery el­e­ment of mur­der be­yond a rea­son­able doubt or that the State has proven be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that the de­fen­dant did not act in self-de­fense,” St. Louis Cir­cuit Judge Ti­mothy Wil­son wrote in his de­ci­sion.

St. Louis Cir­cuit At­tor­ney Kim Gardner ac­knowl­edged the dif­fi­culty of win­ning po­lice shoot­ing cases but said pros­e­cu­tors believe they proved that Stock­ley in­tended to kill Smith.

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