St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was let off the hook in the 2011 shooting death of a motorist. Last year, Stockley finally picked up charges of first degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. The officer plead not guilty to the crimes and decided to wave his right to a jury trial, giving full discretion to Judge Timothy Wilson to decide the outcome.
On Friday, the judge took the side of the former officer who resigned in 2013. The prosecution, on the other hand, contended that Stockley committed a premeditated murder and planned to kill Smith, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The death followed a nearly three-mile car cash as Jason Stockley and his partner Brian Bianchi pursued Anthony Lamar Smith in their police cruiser at speeds close to 90 mph. At one point, Stockley is heard shouting “going to kill this motherf*cker” in clips obtained by the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.
The officer charged with murder didn’t deny saying these words during trial. However, he claims that he didn’t recall saying it. Wilson wrote the statement “was not intelligible” and that its “context is not clear.”
The car cash came to a close when Stockley order his partner to ram his police cruiser into Smith’s SUV. Bianchi reportedly informed Stockley that it appeared as if Smith was reaching for a weapon. Stockley emerged from the police cruiser with with a department-issued pistol and an AK-47 rifle — which the department has not permitted him to carry.
Anthony Lamar Smith reportedly sped off, knocking Stockley sideways prompting him to fire several shots into the vehicle, striking Smith five times. The officer returned to the police cruiser to locate a first aid kit, but by then Smith was already deceased.
Stockley went in-and-out Smith’s car at least four times while 10 officer stood by, according to testifying officers. One officers says that he felt strange about what Stockley was doing in the vehicle, Fox 2 reported.. The officer once charged with murder claimed that he entered the vehicle to “locate the weapon and render it safe” and remove the bullets from the silver revolver according to the police report. However, forensics analysis only found Stockley’s DNA on the revolver.
Closing arguments by the prosecution asserted the idea that Stockley obviously planted the weapon in the vehicle of the deceased Smith. Stockley argues that the shooting occurred in self-defense as he claims a struggle ensued resulting in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Smith was the father of a young daughter, as seen in the gallery.
In 2013, the city settled a civil court case with Smith’s loved ones, awarding his fiancée and daughter a total of $900,000.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told KMOV she was disappointed by the judge’s decision and believed that Smith’s death was a premeditated murder..”While officer-involved shooting cases are extremely difficult to prevail in court, I believe we offered sufficient evident that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley intended to kill Mr. Smith.”
“I understand and appreciate the many challenges that face our city’s police officers. It’s very noble work,” Gardner added. “However, however we need further examination and clarity in the laws that govern the use of deadly force by police officers.”
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson made a statement following the verdict, saying that she was “appalled at what happened to” Smith and that she was “sobered by this outcome.”
The mayor also offered her prayers to those “who find no comfort or justice” in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
“Frustration, anger, hurt, pain, hope and love all intermingle,” she said in statement. “I encourage St. Louisans to show each other compassion, to recognize that we all have different experiences and background and that we all come to this with real feeling and experiences. We are all St. Louisans. We rise and fall together.”
Protesters responded by burning a St. Louis Cardinals jersey in the street while reportedly chanting and shouting, “if we can’t get no justice y’all can’t get no peace.”
St. Louis interim police chief Lawrence O’Toole addressed the public, urging those angered by Friday’s court decision to protest peacefully. O’Toole vows to protect free speech, but also the safety of the public.
On Thursday, Gov. Eric Greitens took steps to summon to Missouri National Guard while police officers in the area were put on 12 hour shifts. Activists, with support from the city’s black clergy, allegedly planned disruptive protests before Friday’s verdict. As a result of the expected turmoil in the area, classes have been cancelled and a police barricades have been out n place.