Former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley has been acquitted of a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of an African-American man. Stockley, 36, shot Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, during a 2011 police chase.
Barricades have been set up around two downtown courthouses and St. Louis city police headquarters in anticipation of St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson’s verdict. Activists have warned of mass disorder if Stockley is cleared. St. Louis City and County police officers are working 12-hour shifts beginning today in response to expected protests.
State and local leaders are urging for peace. Smith’s fiancé, Christina Wilson, Governor Eric Greitens and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson are asking the public to express their message in a peaceful way.
Greitens has taken initial steps to activate the Missouri National Guard in St. Louis if needed. He says the service members might be necessary to help protect critical infrastructure and free up civilian law enforcement to defend people’s First Amendment rights. Earlier this week, Greitens met with St. Louis clergy members and state officials to discuss safety and free speech measures involving the verdict.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that several Catholic high schools in St. Louis have cancelled classes today in response to an expected ruling.