ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Judge Timothy Wilson has issued a not guilty verdict in the Jason Stockley murder trial.
The 30-page verdict was released Friday morning. Stockley was charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action, and was found not guilty on both charges. Read the entire verdict here.
“The defense does not deny that Stockley shot and killed Smith. Rather the defense contends that Stockley acted in self-defense and that Stockley’s use of deadly force, as a police officer, was justified because Smith was armed with a handgun, and had demonstrated he was a danger to other persons by the manner in which he fled from the police at high speed and Stockley did not shoot Smith until Smith reached for his gun.”
The St. Louis Police Department released a statement from Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole on Twitter Friday morning, which stated, “While we know emotions are running high, our number one priority is protecting and serving our citizens. We ask that citizens who choose to demonstrate, do so peacefully.”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner released a statement Friday morning saying, “I’m disappointed with the court’s finding. I know there are better ways we can do this if we join together to make the system work for us all.”
Stockley’s trial was for the 2011 shooting death of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith. After a high-speed chase in North St. Louis in December 2011, Stockley shot Smith, killing him.
Stockley is white, and 24-year-old Smith was black.
Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday “took the initial steps” to activate the Missouri National Guard in anticipation of possible events related to the Stockley verdict.
“As Governor, I am committed to protecting everyone’s constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people’s lives, homes, and communities. Taking the steps to put the Missouri National Guard on standby is a necessary precaution,” Greitens said in a statement.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department also announced its preparations ahead of the announcement, stating that officers will begin working 12-hour shifts Friday.
“Any official announcement will come from the courts,” the department adds.
There are metal barricades around the downtown courthouse and police department in anticipation of the verdict announcement.
Police will establish an area for protests in Poelker Park at Tucker and Market downtown, according to a video statement released by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson:
Protesters warn there will be disruptions across the city if Stockley is found not guilty.
“The reaction is going to be something that the city, and St. Louis doesn’t want to see or want to have. There’s going to be disruption everywhere. If we don’t get justice, there will be no peace,” Lashell Eikerenkoetter told KMOX.