Another Killer Cop Exonerated
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Wearing a badge in America provides a virtual license to kill with impunity. Incidents happen nationwide with disturbing regularity.
Driving, walking, shopping, and engaging in other entirely legal activities publicly or privately at home while Black is hazardous to their life and welfare.
Anthony Lamar Smith, aged 24, was one of many victims - in December 2011 lethally shot seven times at point-blank range in his car, murdered by former killer cop Jason Stockley after a three-minute high-speed chase.
While ongoing, Stockley was recorded saying: "Gonna kill this (expletive), don't you know it." After stopping Smith's car, Stockley ordered him to open the door, according to witnesses and dashcam footage.
Before he had a chance to comply, Smith was murdered in cold blood. Cell phone video then showed Stockley planting a gun in his car taken from the police vehicle, a common stunt to justify cop killings, unjustifiably claiming self-defense.
Stockley and his partner Brian Bianchi claimed they saw Smith engaged in a drug deal. Whether true or false doesn't justify murder.
Former St. Louis police officer Stockley was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Circuit court Judge Timothy Wilson oversaw his bench trial.
Despite convincing evidence of guilt, on September 15, he acquitted Stockley saying:
"This court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt. Agonizingly, this court has pored over the evidence again and again."
"This court, in conscience, cannot say that the state has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt or that the defendant did not act in self-defense" - a shocking miscarriage of justice.
Circuit attorney Kim Gardner expressed disappointment, saying "(w)hile officer-involved shootings are very hard to return a guilty verdict, I am confident that we presented sufficient evidence at trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley was guilty of murder in the first degree."
Following the verdict, protests erupted in downtown St. Louis - at first peaceful, later becoming violent. Injuries, arrests and vandalism were reported, including against Mayor Lyda Krewson's home following her statement saying:
"I am appalled at what happened to Anthony Lamar Smith. I am sobered by this outcome. Frustration, anger, hurt, pain, hope and love all intermingled."
"I encourage St. Louisans to show each other compassion, to recognize that we all have different experiences and backgrounds, and that we all come to this with real feelings and experiences."
Ahead of the verdict, she readied police to respond to street protests, warning violence wouldn't be tolerated. On Thursday, Governor Eric Greitens activated Missouri National Guard forces to be used if needed.
Stockley was tried in August, not Bianchi. Weeks passed before Judge Wilson's ruling. Local activists and St. Louis Black clergy pledged disruptive protests if Stockley was exonerated.
Wilson addressed this issue in his ruling, saying "(a) judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism."
Nor was he "swayed" by incriminating evidence of guilt - beyond a reasonable doubt.
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