(St. Louis Public Radio) - Though there’s no official word on when the Jason Stockley verdict will be announced in St. Louis, city and state leaders made it clear the time is soon.
A few hours after activating the National Guard, Gov. Eric Greitens met Thursday night with the fiancee of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man who was fatally shot by Stockley, an white ex-St. Louis officer, in December 2011. Earlier in the day, Mayor Lyda Krewson issued a video in which she said the city is preparing to quell any disorder. And the city and county police departments said they’d start 12-hour shifts starting Friday morning.
Activists have promised days of protests if Stockley, who resigned in 2013 and now lives in Texas, is acquitted.
Greitens and Christina Wilson, Smith’s fiancee, met at the Wainwright Building in St. Louis.
Wilson said she didn’t want to see violence if a judge acquits Stockley, who claims he shot Smith in self-defense.
“In this situation, we might not get what we want — and we might … get what we want,” she said. “But however it goes, I ask for peace on behalf of my daughter, Anthony’s loved ones. And if you feel like you want to speak out, speak how you feel. … Just do it in a peaceful way.”
Greitens, who didn’t take questions, again called for calm: “One life has been lost in this case and we don’t need more bloodshed.” He later added, “Whatever the verdict is, we will protect every single person’s right to peacefully protest. And whatever the verdict is, we will also protect people’s lives, their homes and our communities.”
Smith’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners for $900,000 in 2013.
No one knows how the judge will rule, or when. But Wilson’s attorney, Al Watkins, said the amount of preparations happening now is telling.
“You want to know what this simple guy thinks? That verdict is not going to be consistent with the evidence,” he said.
Protest in a park
In a statement and video, Krewson said the city's police department has done extensive training and planning to respond to public reaction to the judge's order, and worked with the county police, Missouri Highway Patrol and Greitens’ office.
Protesters will be directed to an area in Poelker Park in downtown St. Louis across from City Hall, she said. Krewson called protesting a "cornerstone of our democracy," but said law enforcement will stop unlawful behavior.
"Anyone intent on violence or vandalism toward people or property will be arrested," Kewson said. "These actions will be implemented in order to keep everyone safe."
Police, National Guard at the ready
Greitens signed an order Thursday “will allow the National Guard to take the necessary steps to be prepared to help if they are needed,” he said in a statement.
"As governor, I am committed to protecting everyone's constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people's lives, homes, and communities. Taking the steps to put the Missouri National Guard on standby is a necessary precaution,” Greitens said.
The statement also said the National Guard will need time to organize its people and equipment before the verdict is announced.
The St. Louis police also announced that officers would start working 12-hour shifts Friday. Doing so, the department said, will make it "ready for any events that may unfold and to ensure a safe environment for our community."
Republished with permission of St. Louis Public Radio: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/st-louis-awaits-stockley-verdict-greitens-activates-national-guard-widow-urges-peaceful