Violent protests have broken out in St. Louis, Missouri, after former police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of murdering Anthony Smith in 2011 after a high-speed chase following a suspected drug deal.
- Four officers have been injured and one police car has been vandalized.
- Protestors have been pepper sprayed for attempting to block police travel.
- Police blocked protestors from getting on a major highway, so they marched to police headquarters.
- Local businesses closed and sent employees home early due to the protests.
What happened in 2011?
- Stockley and his partner attempted to arrest Smith during a suspected drug deal.
- Smith fled and a chase that reached speeds of 90 mph ensued through local neighborhoods.
- Officers stopped Smith by ramming his vehicle, and Stockley, believing Smith was concealing a weapon, shot Smith five times, killing him.
- A handgun and a bag of heroin was found in the vehicle. The handgun only had Stockley's DNA on it. The heroin had Smith's DNA on it.
Why was Stockley accused of premeditated murder?
- Prosecutors accused Stockley of planting the weapon in Smith's vehicle after the fact.
- During the chase, Stockley was heard on the in-car camera saying he was "gonna kill this [expletive], don't you know it."
- Prosecutors said Stockley shot Smith four times quickly, then shot him "execution style" at close range to kill him.
Why was he acquitted?
- Stockley waived his right to a jury trial, and his case was decided by bench trial by Judge Timothy Wilson.
- "This court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt. Agonizingly, this court has pored over the evidence again and again … This court, in conscience, cannot say that the state has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt or that the defendant did not act in self-defense," Wilson said in his decision.
(H/T St. Louis Post-Dispatch)