UPDATES SEPT. 16–PROTESTS CONTINUE, POLICE GET VIOLENT, PEPPER-SPRAY, ARREST DEMONSTRATORS
ANTHONY SMITH’S BROTHER SPEAKS OUT: “THIS IS NOT OVER,” ENDORSES ECONOMIC BOYCOTT OF ST. LOUIS; U-2 HAS ALREADY CANCELED ITS SEPT. 16 PERFORMANCE AT ST. LOUIS’ “THE DOME”
Cop Jason Stockley rammed Anthony Lamar Smith’s car, then shot him 5 times at close range with cop’s personal AK-47, planted gun
Stockley heard on dashcam video: “going to kill this —-, don’t you know it”
SLPD moves to stop protesters; National Guard in wings
Arch City Defenders: St. Louis Police Dept. the “deadliest in the country”
September 15, 2017
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge [today] acquitted a white former St. Louis police officer of murder in the 2011 killing of [Anthony Lamar Smith, 24], a decision that could spark protests with National Guard troops on standby.
Judge Timothy Wilson found the former officer, Jason Stockley, not guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. The bench ruling came more than a month after testimony concluded.
Activists had threatened civil disobedience if Stockley was acquitted, and authorities took steps to deal with that scenario. All three downtown courthouses, including the federal courthouse, and some city schools were closed on in anticipation of the verdict.
The police department said officers would be working 12-hour shifts starting Friday and Mayor Lyda Krewson said the State Highway Patrol and St. Louis County police would provide support, with the patrol handling any protests on state highways.
Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, meanwhile, put the National Guard on standby in case of unrest. He and the mayor urged protesters to be peaceful, a sentiment echoed by Smith’s fiancée, Christina Wilson.
Here’s a look at the case:
Stockley and his partner saw what appeared to be a drug transaction in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant on Dec. 20, 2011. As the officers sought to corner Smith, he drove away. Stockley’s defense attorney, Neil Bruntrager, said the officers were nearly run over. Stockley fired at the fleeing car, then a car chase began.
Police dashcam video captured Stockley saying, “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it,” in the midst of the chase. As Smith’s car slowed, Stockley told his partner to slam the police SUV into it, and his partner did so. Stockley then got out of the SUV and fired five shots into Smith’s car, killing him.
Bruntrager said Stockley fired only after Smith refused commands to put up his hands and reached along the seat toward an area where a gun was found. But prosecutors said Stockley planted the gun. Testing found Stockley’s DNA on the gun, but not Smith’s.
Stockley, now 36, graduated from a Catholic high school in nearby Belleville, Illinois, then went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduation, he served in Iraq, where he was injured and awarded the Army Bronze Star. Stockley joined the St. Louis Police Department in 2007. He resigned in 2013, about two years after the shooting, and moved to Houston.
Smith had a 1-year-old daughter when he died. His family has not disclosed much about him. Court records show he had a criminal record that included convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm and drug distribution. At the time of the shooting, he was on probation for a theft charge related to a 2010 crime in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. In 2013, the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners reached a $900,000 settlement with Smith’s family, ending a wrongful-death lawsuit filed on behalf of Smith’s daughter.
The circuit attorney’s office initially decided not to charge Stockley, but police internal affairs brought new evidence in March 2016. Then-Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced in May 2016 that Stockley was charged with first-degree murder.
The new evidence wasn’t disclosed, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained the dashboard camera video and published it soon after charges were announced. The footage outraged activists.
Prosecutors opted not to pursue the death penalty. Stockley chose to have the case decided by a judge, rather than a jury, and the judge agreed despite the objections of prosecutors.
RACIALLY CHARGED ISSUE
Police and courts in the St. Louis area have been under scrutiny since the 2014 fatal shooting by police of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson. Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by a white officer after they skirmished in a street. Weeks of often-violent protests followed, and violence was renewed that November after a grand jury declined to indict the officer, who resigned that month.
Since then, police have fatally shot several other black suspects in St. Louis. Stockley is the only St. Louis police officer to be charged with murder in recent years.
Joint statement from us, St. Louis Action Council and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE):
ArchCity Defenders, Inc. from Facebook
Acquittal in Jason Stockley’s Murder of Anthony Lamar Smith Reinforces Message that Law Enforcement can Use Fatal, Excessive Force and Turn to Courts for Protection
On Friday, a judge acquitted Officer Jason Stockley of first degree murder and armed criminal action for the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a twenty-four year-old black man and father from St. Louis. ArchCity Defenders stands in solidarity with the family of Anthony Lamar Smith, whose name was added to the long list of black men and women killed by the police in the St. Louis region. Grieving families who lose loved ones at the hands of police officers all too often seek justice from a legal system that instead protects their loved ones’ killers.
We saw this play out today in Jason Stockley’s case, a former St. Louis Metro Police Officer, who was not convicted for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. This devastating verdict reinforces the message that law enforcement can use fatal, excessive force against communities of color and turn to the courts for protection. The egregious facts of this case underscore the failures of the criminal legal system even in clear cut cases of police violence.
Officer Stockley carried his personal weapon, an AK-47, with him on duty in violation of department policy. Stockley was heard saying “I’m going to kill this motherfucker,” during his pursuit. He shot Anthony Lamar Smith five times at close range, with the “kill shot” being fired from six inches away from Mr. Smith. Officer Stockley’s statements at the scene contradicted that of other witnesses, too. Yet, he was acquitted.
This case makes it crystal clear that police officers may murder with impunity. National data indicates that St. Louis City police department kills more people per capita than other departments, making it the deadliest in the country. Additionally, black men are killed by St. Louis police at a rate of 9 for every 100,000 people, almost double the national average murder rate of 5 for every 100,000 people.
“Mr. Smith’s family has already lost their loved one to violence and now they are being denied justice. If police can announce they are going to murder, carry personal AK-47s, plant weapons, and shoot unarmed people 5 times at close range with no consequences, no black man in America is safe,” said Thomas Harvey, Executive Director of Arch City Defenders.
“Police and courts in this region and across America have to accept that racism influences police actions and the court’s protection of those actions. This verdict shows that there has been no change. There can be no trust without accountability.”
“Three years after the Ferguson Uprising, St. Louis finds itself in the same place. The continued disregard for black life and the failure to hold police accountable creates heightened tensions between police and the community. We will continue to demand justice and are committed to using every tool available to do so,” said Organizer and Activist, Kayla Reed, who is also a board member of ArchCity Defenders. ArchCity Defenders is a nonprofit civil rights law firm committed to providing holistic legal advocacy and to combating the criminalization of poverty and state violence against the poor and people of color. http://www.archcitydefenders.org/