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St. Louis braces for protests after acquittal of police officer who shot and killed black motorist
On Friday, a judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of murder charges concerning the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith, St. Louis' KMOX reports.
Stockley, who is white, shot Smith, a 24-year-old black man, after a high-speed chase stemming from what appeared to be a drug transaction in a parking lot. Dashcam footage captured Stockley saying "going to kill this [expletive], don't you know it" before Stockley and his partner rammed Smith's van and Stockley got out and shot five rounds into the car, killing Smith. Stockley's defense attorney argued Stockley fired in self defense after Smith refused to put his hands up and appeared to be reaching for an area where a gun was later found. Prosecutors say Stockley planted the gun, which was discovered to have his DNA on it but not Smith's, The Associated Press reports.
Stockley was charged by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce with first-degree murder in May 2016, after new evidence was discovered.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) activated the Missouri National Guard on Thursday, prior to the verdict, in anticipation of an acquittal, CNN reports. "As governor, I am committed to protecting everyone's constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people's lives, homes, and communities," he said in a statement, calling the National Guard a "necessary precaution."
Likewise, protesters vowed to demonstrate if Stockley was acquitted. "The reaction is going to be something that the city, and St. Louis, doesn't want to see or want to have," one protester told KMOX. "There's going to be disruption everywhere. If we don't get justice, there will be no peace." Read more about the case at St. Louis Post-Dispatch.