A Missouri judge on Friday found former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder in the 2011 shooting death of a 24-year-old black man named Anthony Lamar Smith.
Stockley, who is white, was charged with first-degree murder and was accused of planting a gun in Smith’s car. Stockley testified he was acting in self-defense.
According to charging documents, Stockley was riding in the passenger seat of his patrol car with a personal AK-47 in one hand and an official police weapon in the other, and shot at Smith’s car during a chase. After crashing into the car, he then shot at Smith five times, according to the documents.
"I’m sad, I’m hurt, I’m mad,” the Reverend Clinton Stancil of the Wayman AME Church in St. Louis told Reuters by telephone. “But this was expected. We haven’t made any progress since Ferguson, that’s clear. Cops can still kill us with impunity."
This highly anticipated verdict comes five weeks after the bench trial ended and just after the Department of Justice decided they would not bring federal charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.
Officials say that this verdict could lead to mass protests like the response to the deaths of Eric Garner, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown.
Faith leaders and others have already gathered outside the courthouse:
Group including pastors comes back out to intersection, holding hands and praying for "justice in this city" pic.twitter.com/6hLgQ9p7lN— Versha Sharma (@versharma) September 15, 2017
Reuters contributed to report.