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Protesters pour into St. Louis streets after murder acquittal for ex-cop

Protesters pour into St. Louis streets after murder acquittal for ex-cop

Lacy Clay also echoed Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner in saying the region must demand changes in law enforcement, citing a bill he introduced in Congress that would mandate increased sensitivity training for police officers to help them de-escalate potentially violent situations.

A judge on Friday found 36-year-old Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

The St. Louis area has a history of unrest in such cases, including after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014.

Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson made the ruling in favor of the defense despite the prosecution's argument that former Officer Jason Stockley carried out a premeditated plan to kill Smith.

Stockley, who resigned in 2013, claimed he fired in self-defense after Smith reached for a weapon that police said was found in his auto.

Stockley waives his right to a jury trial in favour of a bench trial.

Stockley emerges from the SUV and fires five shots into Smith's auto, killing him.

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St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce's office meets with then-U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan and both agree there isn't sufficient evidence to prosecute Stockley. "We must work together for a better, stronger, safer community, one founded upon respect for each other, and one in which we see our neighbor as another self".

Smith's family is expected to hold a press conference later Friday morning.

Shortly after the verdict, protesters blocked a highway ramp and a popular intersection in downtown St. Louis, at Market Street and Tucker Boulevard near the courthouse where the trial took place, as they moved through the city. "But however it goes, I ask for peace on behalf of my daughter, on Anthony's loved ones, and if you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel". We know that many in our communities may have strong feelings and opinions about the verdict after following the trial closely in recent months. One life has been lost in this case, and we don't need more bloodshed.

"What the country needs to know is, every single person in our country, we have a right to be mad", said Al Watkins, an attorney for Smith's fiancée, Christina Wilson, after the verdict. It's going to be a hundred-plus days, three hundred. Stockley said over the police radio that Smith, fired a gun.

With Bianchi at the wheel, the officers chased Smith at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour before the crash, according to the criminal complaint.

About 30 seconds later, Stockley testified that he ordered his partner to hit Smith's vehicle and end the pursuit because the suspect had just driven into oncoming traffic and threatened other people. "This court has viewed the video evidence from the restaurant's surveillance camera, the cameras in the police vehicle, and the cell phone video by the lay witness, over and over again - innumerable times". The former policeman, who was arrested in May 2016, was accused of planting a gun in Smith's auto but testified he acted in self-defense. Smith tried to flee from Stockley on December 20, 2011, following an alleged drug deal, authorities said.

And, yet, this is the justice that was served. Stockley exited the police SUV carrying his department-issued handgun along with his personal AK-47 pistol.