White Ex- St. Louis Officer Found Not Guilty of Murdering Black Man

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Many expect the verdict to be issued tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 15).

Stockley's lawyer argued that his client acted reasonably at the end of a "near-death" police chase to arrest a drug suspect who endangered the officers' lives as well as innocent bystanders on St. Louis streets. The document states that "the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley did not act in self-defense".

Updated | The city of St. Louis was bracing for protests Friday, hours after a judge found a white police officer not guilty of the fatal 2011 shooting of a black man despite evidence showing the officer's DNA on a gun he allegedly planted after the shooting.

After a three-minute high-speed vehicle chase, Mr Stockley told his partner, who was in the driver's seat, to ram Mr Smith's auto. However, prosecutors said Stockley carried out his premeditated plans to kill Smith by shooting him within 6 inches of his body and planting a revolver in his auto, which was found to have only Stockley's DNA on it.

"A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism ..." That's three years before the world would know the name Michael Brown, the 18-year-old unarmed black man shot and killed by former police officer Darren Wilson in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.

Stockley, as to be expected, claimed that he had acted in self-defense, saying he believed that Smith was reaching for a weapon in the vehicle.

Dramatic footage - captured on the police vehicle dashcam, an internal vehicle camera and cell phone video of the shooting's aftermath - played a key role in the trial that began August 1.

Stockley, who shot Smith five times, was charged with first-degree murder. And once again, St. Louis will be left confused, betrayed, shellshocked and more than likely enraged. Stockley could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole had he been convicted. The officer wasn't charged but later resigned.

But the prosecution described a very different scene, with Assistant Circuit Attorney Aaron Levinson saying Stockley shot Smith five times, including once while standing 6 inches from him, which Levinson called the "kill shot".

Dashcam video and cell phone footage of the chase was used as evidence during the trial, as well as DNA evidence from a gun found in Smith's vehicle. A case in OH twice ended with hung juries, and prosecutors have decided not to seek a third trial.

Stockley claimed he fired in self-defense. And at the request of city leaders, all branches of the St. Louis Library have shut down as protests are expected to continue throughout the night.

But prosecutors questioned why Stockley dug into a bag in the back seat of the police SUV before returning to Smith's auto. Prosecutors say Stockley planted the weapon. When officers began pushing back the crowd, protesters resisted, and police responded with pepper spray, two women told The Associated Press.

The original incident report said Stockley and his partner saw what they believed to be a drug deal behind the Church's Chicken along Riverview Boulevard.

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