13 arrests in St. Louis in protests following officer's acquittal
Sep 16 2017 by Lorena Waters
A decision is expected on Friday in the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer charged with fatally shooting a black man in 2011 after a vehicle chase, and state officials fear a violent reaction if the officer is found not guilty. In 2013, the St. Louis police board settled a wrongful death suit with Smith's family for $900,000, CNN reported. Bruntrager said Stockley fired only when Smith refused commands to put up his hands and reached along the seat toward an area where a gun was found. Stockley then got out of the SUV and fired five shots into Smith's auto, killing him.
During the trial that began on August 1, prosecutors said that the actions of Stockley's partner, Officer Bianchi, "were in stark contradiction to Stockley's own words and claims of self-defense". A gun was found in the vehicle but prosecutors argued Stockley planted the weapon and the gun had only Stockley's DNA on it.
During the five-day trial, prosecutors called 17 witnesses, while Stockley testified along with one other witness for the defense.
Stockley shot Smith following a police chase on December 20, 2011.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Stockley said he understands how video of the shooting looks bad, but that he did nothing wrong. His lawyers argued that he was acting in self-defense. He later graduated from West Point and served in the U.S. Army in Iraq, earning a Bronze Star in combat.
Stockley has since resigned from the St. Louis police department.
Stockley was not initially charged for the 2011 death, but after the controversy that erupted after the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in 2016, the then city attorney charged Stockley with first-degree murder. He was arrested in Texas. He is freed from jail after the St. Louis Police Officers Association, the union representing most St. Louis officers, posts $100,000 of his $1 million bail.
Wilson's decision comes after weeks of speculation about Stockley's fate and the city's reluctance to specify a verdict release date.
"Y'all know this ain't right and y'all continue to do it, says Mike Brown, Sr., father of Michael Brown, a black teen who was killed by Ferguson police in 2014". Activists have warned of mass disorder if Stockley is cleared. The threat of escalation led to Governor Eric Greitens to meet with black activist leaders, where he emphasized that violence would not be accepted. On St. Louis on the Air, contributing host Steve Potter took us through what the ruling means, what protests are happening in St. Louis, and he heard perspectives of several listeners.
However, Judge Timothy Wilson said he doubted the prosecution's claim that the gun was planted, writing in his ruling: "The court observes, based on its almost 30 years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly".