Earlier today, ex-police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of the first-degree murder of 24 year old Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man shot and killed following a high-speed chase back in 2011. Stockley, who formerly worked for the St. Louis police department, was on trial after shooting Lamar Smith five times, killing him in the process. While he claimed that he saw Smith pull out a gun, prosecutors stated that Stockley actually planted the gun after the fact.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Stockley originally requested to be tried by a judge, rather than a jury of his peers. During the trial, Assistant Circuit Attorney Robert Steele cited police dashcam footage which showed Stockley saying “”going to kill this ____, don’t you know it.” Apparently, the murder occurred less than a minute later. Stockley’s lawyer defended his client’s statement, chalking it up to typical “human emotion” during a high pressure situation.
Were Stockley to be found guilty, the former office could face a life-sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. After leaving the police force in 2013, Stockley eventually relocated to Houston. As everyone knows, it is rare that a police officer will end up being charged for murder while on duty. Still, the case remains a socially charged one, and St. Louis activists vowed they would not take a “not-guilty” verdict lightly. Apparently, activist groups threatened to shut down highways if Stockley were to be acquitted. The threat of escalation led to Governor Eric Greitens to meet with black activist leaders, where he emphasized that violence would not be accepted.
It is not the first time that St. Louis has been at the center of such cases. Many have not forgotten the shooting of Michael Brown, which took place in Ferguson back in 2014. If you don’t remember, the officer who shot the unarmed Brown was ultimately not charged.
The Anthony Lamar Smith shooting allegedly started when Stockley and his partner attempted to stop what they believed to be a drug deal. After a chase eventually ensued, Stockley claims that Smith was disobeying commands to raise his hands, allegedly choosing to reach for a gun. Once Stockley opened fire, he claimed to have found a revolver in the backseat of Smith’s car.
However, prosecutors pointed out that the gun didn’t have Smith’s DNA on it. Only Stockley’s.