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Louis braces for protests after murder acquittal for ex-cop

16 September 2017

Stockley and his partner perused Smith in a high-speed chase in December 2011 for three miles after suspecting that he was taking part in a drug deal, which resulted in Stockley shooting Smith five times as he tried to leave the scene.

In his ruling, Judge Timothy Wilson said state prosecutors had "failed" to prove the case against the officer, Jason Stockley, who had been facing a first-degree murder charge for killing Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, inside his auto after a chase.

Stockley waives his right to a jury trial in favour of a bench trial.

When local activists and clergy in late August promised "mass disruption" if Stockley was acquitted, some local elected officials interpreted that to mean a return of protests and unrest similar to what followed the non-indictment in Ferguson.

Wilson ruled that that the prosecutor's contention that Stockley planted a gun in Smith's auto was not supported by evidence because the gun was too big to hide and would not have fit in Stockley's pant pockets without being obvious.

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As St. Louis Public Radio notes, "Stockley was the first officer in the St. Louis region to be charged for an on-the-job shooting since 2005". Stockley testified Smith was reaching for a gun in his auto.

This undated family photo supplied by Christina Wilson shows Anthony Lamar Smith holding his daughter Autumn Smith. Gov. Eric Greitens met with and assured black faith leaders that peaceful protesters' rights would be protected, but later stressed that violence wouldn't be tolerated. Protesters began gathering near the courthouse where the case was heard and were marching in the streets. Stockley's attorney, Neil Bruntrager, said the ex-officer on Friday was relieved and would seek to rebuild his life.

The acquittal "does not change the facts: Anthony Lamar Smith died unnecessarily, another casualty of excessive and deadly force by police against people of color", the ACLU of Missouri said in a statement.

Few police officers ever face trial in shooting deaths, and even fewer are convicted. "No witness testified to hearing a shot separated in time from the first group of successive shots", read the court document regarding the prosecution's argument. But the department and all involved officers admitted no wrongdoing, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

According to prosecutors, Stockley planted a gun in Smith's vehicle that day.

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Stockley killed Smith years before the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

There's a new call for St. Louis police to start wearing body cameras, KMOX reported. Stockley exited the police SUV carrying his department-issued handgun along with his personal AK-47 pistol.

With Bianchi at the wheel, the officers chased Smith at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour before the crash, according to the criminal complaint.

But prosecutors questioned why Stockley dug into a bag in the back seat of the police SUV before returning to Smith's vehicle. Prosecutors alleged Shockley later planted a.38-caliber revolver in Smith's crashed vehicle.

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Louis braces for protests after murder acquittal for ex-cop