A judge just found an ex-St. Louis cop not guilty of first degree murder in the slaying of a black man despite evidence that the man was unarmed and a gun was planted.
Jason Stockley, who is no longer a police officer, killed 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith after the latter attempted to flee from law enforcement. Stockley claimed he saw Smith holding a gun and felt that a dangerous altercation was imminent.
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Prosecutors of the case argued that Smith was unarmed, and that Stockley planted the gun inside the vehicle. The firearm was tested for DNA and only Stockley’s genetic material was found on the revolver.
Robert Steele, Assistant Circuit Attorney, highlighted that during the chase the officer’s dashcam captured audio of Stockley saying he was “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.”
Almost a minute later, Smith was dead.
Stockley has moved to Houston, Texas in 2013 after facing the possibility of a life sentence in prison.
Stockley’s case was heard by a judge instead of a jury, despite protest from prosecutors. Judge Wilson oversaw the bench trial and handed down the 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,” Judge Wilson wrote in his ruling.
The city of St. Louis is now bracing itself for the public backlash that may come as a result of the controversial verdict, with the activist community having threatened civil disobedience if there was an acquittal. To prevent riots from breaking out, such as those that happened in Ferguson after the death of Mike Brown, Governor Eric Greitens has called in the Missouri National Guard.
“As governor, I am committed to protecting everyone’s constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people’s lives, homes, and communities,” he stated. “Taking the steps to put the Missouri National Guard on standby is a necessary precaution.”