The Acquittal of Jason Stockley
Police brutality has had a continuous presence in America these past few years. There has been a fair amount of victims of this brutality in the last 5 years, with a significant number of victims being African Americans. You may be familiar with some of the reports, such as those about Kelly Thomas, Gil Collar, Andy Lopez, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Antonio Brown. Many cities have been hit hard by the police brutality situation.
One of the cities experiencing this unrest is St. Louis, Missouri. Riots and peaceful protests alike have been held due to the lack of justice from the federal government. This has lit a spark in others to stand up and raise their voices for people in the city and across the United States, especially in regards to the problem that surfaced two weeks ago.
On Friday, September 15, former officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty for shooting Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Smith was a 24-year-old African American male who was suspected of dealing drugs. He was shot five times by Stockley after a high-speed chase. Stockley claimed that shooting him was an act of self-defense, saying that the 24-year-old had pulled out a gun on him. The entire event was caught on camera. Prosecutors found that Stockley removed a .35 caliber revolver from the back seat of his police car and planted the gun in Smith’s vehicle moments after shooting him repeatedly. Evidence showed that the fingerprint DNA wasn’t from Smith but from the police officer.
During the case, the judge said that he wasn’t convinced of Stockley’s guilt. He believed that finding an urban heroin dealer not in the possession of a firearm was an anomaly. The case took place not far from the suburb of Ferguson, where the shooting of 18-year-old African American Michael Brown, by a white police officer, took place. After the judge handed down the verdict of not guilty, the city of St. Louis erupted in fury.
Protesters in the city of St. Louis gathered outside of the courthouse and marched downtown for hours. Some were chanting “No justice, No Peace” and others were praying and walking while holding peaceful protest signs. The other half of protesters blocked highways and vandalized the mayor’s house by throwing rocks at the windows. Some rioters also smashed the windshield of a police vehicle. They have also thrown trash, such as water bottles, at other police officers. Some police were injured due to the riots that occurred on the night of Saturday, September 16, and 23 rioters were arrested. Protesters also walked through the Delmar Loop, which is a landmark shopping street in St. Louis. Some rioters broke into and looted stores in their path.
If nothing else, Stockley’s trial brought attention to how often officers are acquitted for fatal on-duty shootings. He could have been sentenced to life without parole if found guilty. Instead, he left the police force in 2013 and moved to Houston, bringing no justice for Smith’s family.