St. Louis protesters march after ex-cop Jason Stockley is acquitted of shooting a black motorist

The verdict “is proof that law enforcement and court systems have been infiltrated by white supremacists”

Published September 15, 2017 1:32PM (EDT)

Protesters gather following a not guilty verdict of Jason Stockley. (AP/Jeff Roberson)
Protesters gather following a not guilty verdict of Jason Stockley. (AP/Jeff Roberson)

The ex-cop who shot and killed a black motorist in St. Louis, Missouri has been acquitted of murder.

Jason Stockley shot and killed 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith after a chase over a suspected drug deal in December 2011, according to CNN. Stockley defended himself, claiming that he thought Smith was reaching for a gun in his car, although the prosecution accused Stockley of planting the gun in question to exonerate himself.

"This Court, in conscience, cannot say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense," said St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson in explaining his ruling. "Given that the State here has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant's use of deadly force was not justified in self-defense, the Court need not address lesser degrees of homicide including involuntary manslaughter."

Not surprisingly, the verdict has been met with passionate responses on Twitter.

There was also some on the ground reporting.

The overwhelming consensus among racial justice advocates was that Smith's supporters should fully exercise their right to peaceful protest.

"What the country needs to know is, every single person in our country, we have a right to be mad. We have a right to disagree. We have a right to express our opinion. We have a right to protest," said Al Watkins, an attorney who represented Smith's former fiancée, Christina Wilson.

He added, "Exploit that right, don't compromise it. Stay peaceful."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He specializes in covering science, health and history, and is particularly passionate about climate change, animal science, disability rights, plastic pollution and the intersections between science and politics. He has interviewed many prominent figures including former President Jimmy Carter, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, animal scientist and activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, actor George Takei, and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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Anthony Lamar Smith Black Lives Matter Jason Stockley Police Racism Racism