— KMOX St. Louis News (@kmoxnews) September 15, 2017
Years before Michael Brown’s 2014 death in Ferguson, Missouri, St. Louis cop Jason Stockley became the subject of an investigation after the December 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley, who has since left the police force, was charged with first-degree murder following the death of Lamar, a black man, who he pursued and shot — “five times at close range” — after a high-speed chase over a suspected drug sale. On Friday, Stockley was found not guilty (after arguing that he acted in self-defense) in Smith’s death. Following the verdict, protesters took to the street and began blocking parts of downtown St. Louis.
The case, of course, is a controversial one, given the growing number of “not guilty” verdicts in similar cases of police shooting black men. As a matter of legal strategy, Stockley had waved his right to a jury trial, so the decision arrived solely by the hand of St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson. Within a 30-page document, Wilson wrote in part:
“A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism … This Court, in conscience, cannot say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense.”