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16 September 2017, 01:09 | Terri Saunders
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A St. Louis judge issued a not-guilty verdict Friday to the white former police officer who killed a black motorist six years ago, prompting fears of protests and riots mirroring those in Ferguson, Missouri, three years ago.
"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".
Stockley emerges from the SUV and fires five shots into Smith's vehicle, killing him. The decision by Judge Timothy Wilson was announced by a circuit attorney press release, per the Riverfront Times, after previous remarks by activists there would be "mass disruption" if Stockley was acquitted.
Dashcam video and cell phone footage of the chase was used as evidence during the trial, as well as DNA evidence from a gun found in Smith's auto.
As St. Louis Public Radio notes, "Stockley was the first officer in the St. Louis region to be charged for an on-the-job shooting since 2005".
"The Court finds the State's contention there was a fifth "kill shot" fired by Stockley after a gap in time, is not supported by the evidence". He also said Smith's "threat to society was so high, you have to do whatever you can to stop it". Al Watkins, an attorney for Smith's fiancée, Christina Wilson, urged people to protest - but do it peacefully.
Hundreds of protesters are making their voices heard today in St. Louis in response to the verdict. St. Louis police said on Twitter that some officers were hit by water bottles.
The Chicago Tribune looks back at the case, which started when Stockley and his partner witnessed what looked like a drug transaction on December 20, 2011, in a fast-food restaurant parking lot.
The former police officer chose a bench trial rather than a jury.
She later said that in such shootings "we must re-examine not just how we prosecute these cases but how investigate them".
Greitens put the National Guard on standby in the days leading up to the verdict as a precautionary step ahead of possible unrest.
Updated at 3 p.m. with announcement that all branches of St. Louis Library closing early. They also claimed a gun was not planted and that Stockley acted in self-defense and reasonably.
According to charging documents, Stockley was riding in the passenger seat of his patrol auto with a personal AK-47 in one hand and an official police weapon in the other, and shot at Smith's vehicle during a chase.
The prosecutor said police should not be able to investigate themselves and asked for an independent investigative body under the supervision of the Circuit Attorney to investigate the 25 cases under review by her office.
With Bianchi at the wheel, the officers chased Smith at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour before the crash, according to the criminal complaint.
Complicating matters, the judge said, airbags had deployed in Smith's auto, blocking views - of witnesses and cameras - of what was going on inside it.
Mr Stockley said he was retrieving some equipment to administer first aid.
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The statement said that the foundation is "scrupulously nonpartisan", adding: "The views expressed in the email are his own". The Pence-Kobach commission has other designs, and I urge Granite Staters, and people throughout the nation, to be vigilant.