close and back to page

Protests Continue in St. Louis after Acquittal in Police Shooting of Black Man

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said that "the vast majority of protesters are nonviolent" as demonstrations continued throughout the weekend.

REUTERS

Protests took place throughout the weekend in St. Louis, Mo., following the acquittal of a police officer in the fatal shooting of a Black man six years ago.


In December 2011 Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, shot Anthony Lamar Smith to death after a high-speed chase. Stockley and another officer pursued Smith in a car chase and reached speeds over 80 miles per hour, according to court documents. At one point the police vehicle crashed, records state, but then continued to chase Smith.

At one point Stockley is heard saying to his partner he's "going to kill this motherf***er, don't you know it," referring to Smith. Then, according to court documents, Stockley said to the other officer, "Hit him right now" when Smith's car started to slow down. The police car then crashed into Smith's car and Stockley exited the vehicle and approached Smith's window. Stockley shot Smith five times, killing him.

Stockley alleged that he saw Smith reaching for something and assumed it was a gun, which was why he shot him. A gun was later found in Smith's vehicle but the only DNA found on it was Stockley's. Prosecutors accused Stockley of planting the gun because video footage of the incident shows Stockley going back to his police vehicle after shooting Smith and then returning to Smith's car.

Stockley was charged with murder in the first degree and armed criminal action. In a 30-page verdict Judge Timothy Wilson wrote that the court "is simply not firmly convinced" of Stockley's guilt.

"No one promised a rose garden, and this surely is not one," Wilson wrote, adding that the court "agonizingly" analyzed the evidence "again and again."

Protests broke out Friday almost immediately after the verdict was announced.

The St. Louis Police Department was active on Twitter throughout the weekend with updates about the demonstrations, which were largely nonviolent. Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole confirmed in a media briefing that 80 arrests were made and that all injuries that police officers suffered were "minor or moderate." The department's Twitter referred to some of the protesters as "criminals" and "agitators."

At one point an unmarked police car backed into a group of protesters.

The St. Louis police department confirmed on Twitter that there were no injuries in connection with the incident, which was caught on video.

A St. Louis reporter posted video footage of the incident on Twitter.

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens took a much different tone than St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson (D). He wrote on Facebook:

"Saturday night, some criminals decided to pick up rocks and break windows. They thought they'd get away with it. They were wrong. Our officers caught 'em, cuffed 'em, and threw 'em in jail.

"In the past, our leaders let people break windows, loot, start fires. They let them do it. Not this time. Tonight, the police arrested the vandals. At this moment, they're all sitting in a jail cell. They're gonna wake up and face felony charges.

"These aren't protestors, these are criminals.

"Criminals, listen up: you break a window, you're going to be behind bars. It's that simple."

Krewson stated that "the vast majority of protesters are nonviolent."

More protests are reportedly scheduled to take place today.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com