Protests erupted in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday night following the acquittal of a police officer who was facing murder charges stemming from a fatal shooting.
Immediately after it was announced that St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson had found former St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder, protesters began filling the streets. Late Friday night, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house was vandalized and tensions continued to rise.
St. Louis police responded to the protests with tear gas and the peaceful protests of the day became increasingly violent as the night wore on, with some people throwing bricks at the line of police officers ordering them to disperse. At least two officers were injured by thrown bricks and four other officers were injured throughout the day as well. During the day, 13 people had reportedly been arrested but that number will almost certainly rise.
Tear gas was deployed because agitators became violent towards officers and destroyed property.
The images coming out of St. Louis are reminiscent of the scene that played out just a short distance away in Ferguson after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Anthony Lamar Smith, a black drug suspect, was fleeing from Stockley after leading police on a high-speed chase. Stockley then shot Smith five times at close range before planting a .38-caliber revolver in his car, which prosecutors said amounted to premeditated murder. Defense attorneys argued that Stockley’s deadly actions were “reasonable” because he feared for his life. (Gee, where have I heard that before?)
During the chase, Stockley can be heard on the in-car video telling his partner Brian Bianchi, “Gonna kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.” According to prosecutors, Stockley’s “cool reflection” is proof of his intent to kill Smith. This same video shows Stockley digging through a duffel bag in his car after the shooting, which prosecutors said was when he got the gun to plant in Smith’s car. Lab tests of the gun found in Smith’s car revealed no DNA other than Stockley’s.
And yet, he was acquitted and his actions were deemed “justified.” If he had been found guilty, Stockley could have been sentenced to life in prison without parole. But he had a badge when pulled the trigger, so instead, he is a free man. It really is no wonder that protesters flooded the streets when the verdict was announced.
You can watch video of the protests below, via KMOV:
And more video:
— CNN (@CNN) September 16, 2017
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 16, 2017