2017-09-16 05:20:44 UTC
police officer was found not guilty of murder in the 2011 death
of a black man who was shot five times in his car after a high-
Demonstrators took to the streets shortly after the officer,
Jason Stockley, was acquitted of first-degree murder and armed
criminal action charges by St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy
Wilson, who presided over the racially charged case.
Stockley escaped what could have been a lengthy prison sentence
despite the fact that he was recorded on an internal video
camera during the pursuit apparently saying he intended to kill
Anthony Lamar Smith.
Mayor Lyda Krewson urged St. Louis residents to "show each other
"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Adam
Lamar Smith, our police, judge, prosecutor, our citizens who
find no comfort or justice, and everyone involved in this
difficult case," Krewson said in a statement. "I am appalled by
what happened to Anthony Lamar Smith. I am sobered by this
Related: Why It's So Hard To Convict A Police Officer
The Stockley case rekindled racial tensions not seen in the St.
Louis-area since 2014 when a violent uprising erupted in nearby
Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal police shooting of Michael
Brown. Activists backed by many of St. Louis' black clergy had
vowed to stage protests if Wilson acquitted Stockley.
City officials, fearing trouble, scheduled officers to work 12-
hour shifts and prepared for the worst. Police Chief Lawrence
O'Toole called for calm.
"While we know emotions are running high, our number one
priority is protecting and serving our citizens," he said in a
statement. "We ask that citizens who choose to demonstrate, do
Smith was 24, a new dad and engaged to be married when he was
killed. But in his ruling, the judge called him an "urban heroin
dealer" while noting that Stockley was a West Point graduate who
had served in Iraq and suffered a back injury during a Baghdad
In their initial report, police said Smith was doing a drug deal
behind a fried chicken restaurant north of downtown St. Louis
when he took off in a silver Buick, twice crashing into a police
In Wilson's ruling and in documents obtained by NBC affiliate
KSDK, Stockley could be heard saying "we're killing this
(expletive), don't you know."
But the judge said this was not proof Stockley wanted to kill
Smith, calling the remark "ambiguous."
"People say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment or
while in stressful situations," he wrote.
Wilson also wrote that Stockley "did not approach the Buick and
immediately shoot Smith multiple times."
Instead, the judge said Stockley "ordered Smith to open the door
and to show his hands."
"The defense does not deny that Stockley shot and killed Smith,"
the judge wrote. "Rather, the defense contends Stockley acted in
In May 2016, when Stockley was charged with first-degree murder,
prosecutors said that a gun found in Smith's car had only
Stockley's DNA on it.
Wilson also said there was no evidence to suggest Stockley
"planted the handgun found in the Buick." He said the state's
own witnesses "testified that the absence of a person's DNA on a
gun does not mean that person did not touch the gun."
"Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly 30 years on
the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a
firearm would be an anomaly," Wilson wrote.
The prosecutor, Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, said she was
"disappointed with the court's decision."
In light of the verdict, its time to take a harder look at how
officer-involved shootings are addressed in our city," she said.
Gardner said she understands and appreciates "the many
challenges that face our citys police officers."
"Its very noble work," she said. "However, we need further
examination and clarity in the laws that govern the use of
deadly force by police officers.
After the Smith killing, homicide detectives from the St. Louis
Metropolitan Police Department deemed it justifiable. But
Stockley resigned from the force in 2013, the same year that the
Board of Police Commissioners settled a wrongful death suit with
Smith's family for $900,000.
When Stockley was charged with premeditated murder, he opted for
a bench trial rather than take his chances with a jury.