More protests erupted in St. Louis after acquittal in police shooting

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st. louis police shooting protest
People
march through West County Mall a day after the not guilty verdict
in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police
officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith,
who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16,
2017.

Reuters/Joshua
Lott


ST. LOUIS (Reuters) –
Activists marched peacefully through a
suburban St. Louis-area
shopping mall on Saturday, hours after police clashed with a
crowd protesting the acquittal of a white former
policeman accused of murdering a black man.

In a second day of demonstrations over a judge’s
ruling in the 2011 case, hundreds of people snaked through the
West County Center in
the St. Louis suburb of
Des Peres, chanting “Shut it down” and waving fists
in the air.

Police were out in force but did not tussle with
protesters, unlike the previous night, when nine
city officers and a state trooper were injured
and at least 23 people were taken into
custody.

“We don’t want to see property destruction or see
people getting hurt,” said Elad Gross, a
29-year-old St. Louis civil
rights attorney, as activists gathered in a park
before going to the mall. “But this is a
protest that addresses injustices
not only happening here
in St. Louis but around
the country.”

Singer Ed Sheeran and rockers U2 canceled concerts scheduled for
Saturday night in St. Louis,
citing security concerns.

“Deeply saddened at what has happened
in St. Louis and having
to cancel our show tonight,” U2 singer Bono said in a
post on Instagram. “I found myself
reading Dr. King’s speech from the National Cathedral and asking
myself is this 1968 or 2017?”

On Friday, Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted
former St. Louis Police
Officer Jason Stockley, 36, of
first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony
Lamar Smith, 24.

The verdict comes about three years after rioting broke out in
the St. Louis suburb of
Ferguson when an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white
police officer.

That incident touched off a nationwide soul-searching over law
enforcement’s use of force againstAfrican-Americans,
the mentally ill and other groups.

After Friday’s ruling, some 600 chanting protesters
marched from the courthouse through
downtown St. Louis, some of
them holding “Black Lives Matter” signs.


st. louis police shooting protest
Protesters
shield themselves from pepper spray by police in riot gear during
a protest after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of
former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the
2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St.
Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 15, 2017.

Reuters/Lawrence Bryant

Later, some broke windows at a library and two
restaurants and threw bricks and bottles at
officers, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the
throng. At one point, demonstrators threw rocks and
paint at the home
of St. Louis Mayor Lyda
Krewson, police said.

Smith was shot five times in his car after attempting to
elude Stockley and his partner, who had chased
the suspect after an alleged drug deal, authorities said.

During the pursuit, Stockley could be heard
saying on an internal police car video he was going to kill
Smith, prosecutors said.

Stockley believed that Smith was armed, defense
attorneys said, and a gun was found in the car. But prosecutors
argued Stockley planted the weapon and the gun
had only Stockley’s DNA on it.

Stockley, who left
the St. Louis Metropolitan
Police Department in 2013 and was arrested
lastyear, had waived his right to a jury trial,
allowing the judge to decide.

“This court, as a trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced
of defendant’s guilt,” Judge Wilson wrote in his ruling.

Smith’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit
against the city for $900,000 in 2013,
according to Al Watkins, an attorney for Smith’s fiancée,
Christina Wilson.

 

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Chris
Kenning in Louisville, Kentucky; Writing by
Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Simon
Cameron-Moore, Andrew Heavens, Franklin Paul and David Gregorio)



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