UPDATE: Former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley has been found not guilty of first degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley had waived his right to a jury trial and the judge hearing the case just announced his verdict.
“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 ruling.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said she was “disappointed” with the judge’s decision.
Whether the city of St. Louis now sees the kind of violence that its suburb of Ferguson experienced after the Michael Brown shooting and grand jury verdict remains to be seen. Unlike his predecessor, Jay Nixon, current Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has already called out the National Guard in anticipation of the verdict announcement. Stay tuned.
St. Louis is on edge with Friday’s expected verdict in the trial of former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley. Officials have placed barricades at the courthouse and police are on mandatory 12-hour shifts. Missouri’s new law-and-order governor has placed National Guard troops on standby as well. Meanwhile, “community organizers” have pledged mass disruption if the former cop is acquitted.
Stockley stands accused of first degree murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith. The reputed street pharmacist nearly ran over a police officer before leading officers on a chase. Smith died from police gunfire after he reportedly made furtive movements and would not comply with orders to show his hands.
Prosecutors decided last year to bring first-degree murder charges against Stockley, alleging that the white officer “executed” the black suspect Smith.
Police recovered a Taurus Model 85 from Mr. Smith’s vehicle after the gunsmoke cleared. The deceased’s family claims Stockley planted the gun.
With several large events scheduled for the Gateway City this weekend, violence could easily impact a tens if not hundreds of thousands of visitors. St. Louis is due to host the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, along with a U-2 concert and the annual Midnight Ramble Bicycle Ride.
The Cherokee Tribune and Ledger-News has the story from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
With courthouse barricades up, police presence expanded and National Guard troops on standby, St. Louis is braced for Friday’s anticipated verdict in the murder trial of a white police officer accused of executing a black motorist.
Former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley maintains the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith was in self defense. If he is acquitted of a first-degree murder charge, officials fear the inevitable protests could turn violent. Some activists have hinted as much.
Christina Wilson, Smith’s fiancee, appeared at a press conference with Gov. Eric Greitens Thursday evening to ask protesters to avoid violence if they demonstrate.
In a nutshell, if you or your family live in or plan to visit St. Louis for work or pleasure in the coming days, maintain good situational awareness. In addition, watch the news for reports of violence, depending on the verdict. And don’t forget to tool up as well, just in case.