Jason Stockley

(St. Louis Public Radio) - A former St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer is not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a judge ruled Friday.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said in his verdict that he "closely examined the evidence" in coming to a decision.

Protesters have promised weeks of protests in the event of such an acquittal, and state and local officials have said they want peaceful demonstrations, though the National Guard is prepared to come in if needed.

Stockley, 36, and his partner chased the 24-year-old Smith after a suspected drug deal in the Walnut Park West neighborhood, near the city’s border with Jennings. The chase ended when Stockley allegedly ordered his partner to crash the patrol car into Smith’s vehicle near the intersection of West Florissant Avenue and Goodfellow Boulevard in north St. Louis.

Stockley, who is white, then shot Smith, who was black, five times through the driver’s side window.

Stockley claimed he fired in self-defense. Police found a gun in Smith’s car, but only Stockley’s DNA was on it, leading to accusations the officer had planted the weapon.

Stockley was the first officer in the St. Louis region to be charged for an on-the-job shooting since 2005. Stockley left the department in 2013.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who brought the charges, said she was disappointed with the decision and remains "committed to holding people accountable for violating the law, regardless of their race, gender, occupation or station in life."

She also said: "It's time to take a harder look at how officer-involved shootings are addressed in our city," adding that there need to be "further examination and clarity in the laws that govern the use of deadly force by police officers."

Read what local elected officials have said below:

Statement by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Statement by U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay
Statement by State Rep. Michael Butler

Republished with permission of St. Louis Public Radio: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/judge-acquits-ex-st-louis-officer-stockley-murder-2011-shooting

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