Protesters march in St. Louis after not guilty verdict

Geneva Matthews
September 16, 2017

Many expect the verdict to be issued tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 15).

It was announced today that Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, was found not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Lamar Smith.

The ruling, handed down by St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson, ultimately read: "This court, in conscience, can not 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".

On Friday morning, a St. Louis judge found now-former Police Officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black motorist. The chase ended when Stockley allegedly ordered his partner to crash the patrol auto into Smith's vehicle near the intersection of West Florissant Avenue and Goodfellow Boulevard in north St. Louis. Prosecutors claimed Stockley planted a gun in Smith's vehicle.

The judge who decided the matter declared that he would not be swayed by "partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism".

Stockley originally said he wanted to kill Smith - whom police had pursued on suspicion of him taking part in a drug deal - in the wake of a auto chase that lasted for around three miles before he and his fellow officers caught up to Smith.

Stockley, who resigned in 2013, claimed he fired in self-defense after Smith reached for a weapon that police said was found in his vehicle. Smith was hit five times. Stockley's partner was driving the police SUV, which chased Smith at more than 80 miles per hour. Stockley fired seven shots as Smith sped away. That officer was never charged but eventually resigned.

And an Alzheimer's Walk scheduled for Saturday in downtown St. Louis was postponed. The judge wrote that the statement "can be ambiguous depending on the context".

Stockley opted for a bench trial rather than take his chances with a jury.

The vehicle cash came to a close when Stockley order his partner to ram his police cruiser into Smith's SUV. A case in OH twice ended with hung juries, and prosecutors have decided not to seek a third trial.

At the time of his death, Smith was 24 and had a 1-year-old daughter. Smith tried to flee from Stockley on December 20, 2011, following an alleged drug deal, authorities said. "I'm sad, I'm hurt, I'm mad", the Reverend Clinton Stancil of the Wayman AME Church in St. Louis said by telephone. That's where he was seen going back and forth between the restaurant and his auto; Stockley testified that he saw what he believed to be a drug sale.

Mr Stockley said he was retrieving some equipment to administer first aid.

Stockley entered Smith's vehicle "to locate the weapon and render it safe", and removed the ammunition from the silver revolver, he said in the report. St. Louis-area police will be working 12-hour shifts Friday, while Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens prepped the state National Guard Friday as a "necessary precaution", he said in a statement, per the Post-Dispatch.

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