By Frederick H. Lowe
A former St. Louis police officer, who told his partner he intended to kill a black man moments before shooting him to death following a car chase, was acquitted of first-degree murder charges by a judge following a bench trial.
Judge Timothy Wilson found Jason Stockley not guilty in the shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Judge Wilson wrote his opinion on Friday but his ruling wasn’t released until later.
Stockley and Brian Bianchi, his partner, saw what appeared to be a drug transaction in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant on December 20, 2011.
Smith sped away in his car, and Stockley fired at the fleeing vehicle. A car chase ensued.
Police dashcam recorded Stockley saying, “going to kill this mother fucker, don’t you know it.”
When the chase slowed, Bianchi slammed the patrol car into Smith’s vehicle. Stockley then got out of the patrol car and fired five shots into Smith’s car, killing him.
Police claimed Smith was shot because he did not obey police commands, which is the same excuse Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer Betty Shelby gave for shooting to death stranded and unarmed motorist Terence Crutcher on September 16, 2016. A majority white jury acquitted Shelby of first -degree manslaughter.
Both cops also claimed they feared for their lives.
Smith’s murder and the police dashcam video sparked angry demonstrations. St. Louis is prepared for more following the verdict.
There also were allegations Stockley, who was carrying an unauthorized AK-47 rifle, planted a gun on Smith. Judge Wilson didn’t believe the allegations because he said Smith was a drug dealer and it would be unusual for a drug dealer not to carry a gun.
Stockley has since resigned from the St. Louis police department. He lives in Houston.