St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said to the Chicago Tribune that she was disappointed. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and waived his right to a jury trial, instead preferring to stand before a judge.
Jason Stockley had been charged for fatally shooting Anthony Lamar Smith, a drug suspect, five times following a high-speed auto chase during which Stockley was heard saying, "We're killing this motherfucker, don't you know it".
Many local activists believe the Stockley shooting is more egregious than the killing of Brown because of the allegation that Stockley planted a gun in Smith's vehicle. Prosecutors accused the officer of planting a silver revolver to justify the shooting.
The tension subsided by mid-afternoon Friday, though the protests were still going strong. She also pledged to do everything possible to keep St. Louis residents safe. "We have a right to disagree". We must remain committed to protecting every citizen's constitutional right to protest publicly without interference and acknowledge that while protests do not have to be polite, anger must not give way to violence, and destruction must not replace dialogue. Stockley, who was carrying his duty pistol along with an AK-47 (which he wasn't permitted to carry by the department), threatened that he was "going to kill this motherf****r" before Smith's vehicle crashed, as heard in footage obtained by St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The defense argued he was going to retrieve a medical pad in order the render aid. Police also found a bag of heroin in Smith's auto that had the dead man's DNA on it.
"I'm sorry. I don't buy it", he says.
"This court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt". "Agonizingly, this Court has poured over the evidence again and again".
Wilson announces a not guilty verdict for Stockley. A bag of heroin was found in the auto. Court records show he had a criminal record that included convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm and drug distribution. Al Watkins said the ruling showed prejudice, pointing to a line where the judge wrote that an "urban heroin dealer" without a weapon would be an anomaly.
The acquittal sparked protests in St. Louis, with several people attempting to block intersections and disrupt traffic on Interstate 64. About 100 people gathered near City Hall chanting "No justice, no peace. They're just words of encouragement that keep me still moving and fighting for what I believe is right", said Brown Sr. "Because my people are exhausted of this".
In recent years grand juries have declined to charge officers involved in the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, 18, which set of nights of violent protest in Ferguson, and the choking death of Eric Garner, 43, in NY.
The comment sparked outrage by protesters on the street and on social media. "I know our law enforcement will work to keep them safe".
Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, meanwhile, put the National Guard on standby in case of unrest. Many have not forgotten the shooting of Michael Brown, which took place in Ferguson back in 2014.
Initially, state and federal authorities did not prosecute Stockley, but in Ferguson's aftermath, then-St.
Stockley pleaded "not guilty" to a first-degree murder charge a year ago and waived his right to a jury trial - utlimately handing Wilson the power to decide his fate. His actions were eventually deemed justifiable by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published videos in 2016 that showed the high-speed vehicle chase, and the moment Stockley shot Smith five times. The previous officer said he and his accomplice tailed him in the wake of spotting what they accepted was a medication bargain in the parking area of an eatery.
There are metal barricades around the downtown courthouse and police department in anticipation of the verdict announcement. Stockley shot Smith five times, saying he saw Smith holding a gun.
According to Wilson's ruling, Smith "frantically" sped off hitting the marked police vehicle and another auto. Defense attorney Neil Bruntrager said it was a heat-of-the-moment comment that came after Smith almost ran over the officers.
Smith was alive after the crash when the officers approached his auto with their weapons drawn. The incident started when Smith was observed allegedly engaged in an illegal drug transaction.
Stockley testified that he had actually gone into the bag in his vehicle to get QuikClot wound dressing from the auto and administer it to Smith, but decided against it because "it was futile".