ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Security planners are bracing for possible large scale demonstrations when the verdict is announced in the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer. St. Louis City’s Sheriff Vernon Betts says he has his contacts in the protest community.
I’m hearing that there’s going to be people actually bussed in, people from all over the country are going to be coming in here to protest, no matter what the verdict is,” he says.
Betts says he’s worried about violence and broken glass, if the verdict is not guilty. He’s preparing to board up windows around the court house. Betts says he recommended the judge release a verdict this week, because there are no jury trials that demonstrations would disrupt. But there’s no indication the judge is preparing to make an announcement.
A group of clergy is once again warning about the potential for unrest, if a former St. Louis police officer is acquitted of first-degree murder in the killing of an African American man following a high-speed chase.
About 25 clergy members gathered outside the courthouse Friday and the Reverend Clinton Stancil read their letter to the judge weighing the case against Jason Stockley in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar is also paying attention to what may happen after the Stockley verdict.
“We’re certainly preparing for this also alongside Chief O’Toole’s leadership and knowing that some of our officers might be involved in this. We swear an oath to protect everybody’s rights, that’s number one. And we’re going to do that,” he says.
He hopes there won’t be any inappropriate or criminal activity after the verdict but if it does, they’ll be prepared to respond in an appropriate way. He says he is looking forward to people expressing their first amendment rights as they have every right to do.