Stockley Verdict | St. Louis Public Radio

Stockley Verdict

On Sept. 15, a judge ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. 

Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Prosecutors alleged Stockley, who is white, executed Smith, a black man, after a car chase and then planted a gun in his car. Stockley maintained that Smith reached for the gun and that he shot Smith in self-defense.

The verdict immediately touched off protests in downtown St. Louis, which spread throughout the city, St. Louis County and St. Charles County in the following days.

Protesters have promised weeks of action and have made demands for changes, including the resignation of the interim St. Louis police chief and bringing in outside investigators to examine police-involved killings.

Already, three lawsuits have been filed against the city of St. Louis over allegations of excessive police use of force and violations of First Amendment rights at protests.

Find all of St. Louis Public Radio's coverage of the Stockley verdict and ongoing protests below:

September 12, 2017 photo. Shakespeare in the Streets' "Blow, Winds," inspired by "King Lear," is staged on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library, Central Library, downtown.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The cast and crew of this year’s Shakespeare in the Streets production worked for a year to bring its take on the Bard’s “King Lear” to the steps of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library, downtown.

But the Sept. 15 opening day of “Blow, Winds” coincided with another big event in St. Louis: Judge Timothy Wilson's non-guilty verdict in the murder case against Jason Stockley. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis canceled the weekend run amid protests against the verdict.

Theatergoers will have a chance to see it next summer. The festival plans to present “Blow, Winds” June 15-16, in connection with its annual event in Forest Park.

A street medic assists a protester after St. Louis police officers sprayed checmicals into a crowd of demonstrators near Busch Stadium on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 15 at 2:00 p.m. with comments from ACLU, Mayor Krewson — A federal judge has ordered the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to alter tactics its officers use to respond to protests, especially demonstrations aimed at changing law enforcement policies.

In a 49-page opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry blocked the department from ordering protesters to disperse unless there’s an immediate threat of violence. Perry also limited when officers can use chemical agents like pepper spray or mace.

St. Louis city police officers detain protesters downtown on Sept. 15, 2017 after the acquittal of Jason Stockley was announced.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen are weighing whether to put new limits on the way the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department interacts with protesters.

The Public Safety committee on Tuesday heard two hours of testimony in support of the bill sponsored by Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. It’s modeled on an ordinance in place in Washington, D.C.

Protesters chant outside Busch Stadium during a Cardinals game on Sept. 29.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sept. 15, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis voters will decide next Tuesday whether to boost the sales tax a half cent to fund raises for police and firefighters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in St. Louis will go to the polls next week to decide whether to give the city’s police officers and firefighters a raise by boosting the city’s sales tax by a half-cent.

Proposition P is the second sales tax on the ballot in six months. Approval would push the rate to nearly 12 percent in some parts of the city. And the current climate around policing in St. Louis is making the measure a tough sell.

Protesters walk down Olive Street in downtown St. Louis after the People's Town Hall event. Sept. 28, 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Ann Tisdale’s 20s lined up with the peak of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the struggle for black empowerment.

Tisdale didn’t participate. She said she was scared of getting hurt, but she followed the movement closely — reading “everything there was to read.”

“You could say physically, I’m a coward, but I know what’s going on,” she said.

LaShell Eikerenkoetter addresses police officers after protesters saw them use a Taser on a demonstrator.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The search for a new chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — underway since Sam Dotson retired in April — is into its sixth month.  Applications were due on Thursday, and a new chief should be in place by January.

The final steps of the process are taking place with the department under a bright spotlight from protesters demanding more police accountability, and the scrutiny could impact the way the rest of the search plays out.

LaShell Eikerenkoetter and Rev. Darryl Gray have each been arrested during the Stockley protests.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Rev. Darryl Gray marched alongside iconic civil rights figures, including Ralph Abernathy, who succeeded Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

Nicolle Barton, the executive director of the St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board, talks to Christopher Reichard about the complaint he has just filed with the board. Reichard claims police pepper-sprayed him for no reason while he was protesting the verdi
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Many people demonstrating over former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder believe the Civilian Oversight Board needs more power.

But they are still being encouraged to file complaints with the board, which helps oversee police discipline.

Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president emerita of the AFL-CIO, joins state Rep. Bruce Franks outside America's Center on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:25 p.m. Oct. 21, with details from Galleria mall protest — Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks urged members of the AFL-CIO on Saturday to stand with protesters in St. Louis who are fighting to end police killings of black people.

A group of about 25 protesters gathered outside America’s Center, where the union is holding its convention. Franks had been invited to speak, but protesters were not allowed in until the national union’s leaders assured the convention center there would be no problems. A few hours later, protesters returned to the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, where police declared their demonstration an unlawful assembly, but left without incident.

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People arrested in St. Louis during the first weekend of protests against the Jason Stockley verdict will have to wait longer to know if they’ll be charged.

On Wednesday, a judge sent home a group who appeared in her courtroom at the downtown City Justice Center.

City Court Judge Roberta Hitt told the protesters that they would be notified by mail if they face any charges.

Protesters linked arms on Sept. 15, 2017 in downtown St. Louis on Tucker St.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sept. 15, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

The verdict immediately touched off protests in downtown St. Louis, which spread throughout the city, St. Louis County and to St. Charles County. The protests have continued almost daily

As you are making sense of what's happening in the region, what questions do you have about the ongoing protests? Share them here and we may consider your question in our reporting. 

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley shares evidence included in a motion to dismiss Backpage's lawsuit against him.
File photo I Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal continue in St. Louis, some activists and politicians have called for outside prosecutors to investigate police-involved killings.

That includes elected officials who were previously wary about the idea, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

One specific proposal is to have the Missouri attorney general examine instances where a police officer uses deadly force. But the current inhabitant of that office, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, is not particularly enthusiastic to the idea.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. leads a chant inside the St. Louis Galleria. Sept. 30, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

“No justice, no profits.”

That’s one of several chants protesters have used in nearly daily events since Sept. 15, the day a St. Louis Circuit judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Activists have made it clear that economic disruption is a big part of their strategy.

And they’ve put a number on it. Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, who has taken part in many of the demonstrations, told a crowd late last month the economic impact was $10 million to $11 million.

St. Louis County police officer Ben Granda trains in a simulator at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. The simualator, a gift from the Burges Family Foundation, helps officers practice the tactics that can keep them safe.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Use-of-force policies for both the St. Louis Metropolitan Police and St. Louis County Police departments say officers can shoot someone to “protect themselves or others from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.”

Protesters who have been marching throughout greater St. Louis, demanding greater police accountability for more than a month, say those policies give officers too much leeway. They want more limits on when officers can draw and fire their weapons. But an expert on deadly force says the solution isn’t more restrictions — it’s better training.

Ferguson police officers arrest a protester on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Vincent Lang | St. Louis American

 

Ferguson police arrested a handful of protesters late Friday during a demonstration in front of the city’s Police Department.

The arrests, made about 45 minutes into a demonstration billed as a “liberation party,” came after a Ferguson officer used a bullhorn to warn that protesters who were blocking traffic on the street were in violation of a city ordinance.

After the officer had given three warnings, two city police vehicles moved slowly down South Florissant Road with sirens blaring at about 8:40 p.m. As they stopped near the crowd, other officers rushed to the street. Protesters said officers took five people into custody.

Audience members express dissatisfaction with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's comments Wednesday at a meeting at Harris-Stowe State University. Oct. 11, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

During a frequently contentious forum Wednesday at Harris-Stowe State University, people who have been protesting for the past three weeks had choice words and asked pointed questions of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

What was billed as a forum to discuss how to transfer the activism of the protests into policy turned into more of a question-and-answer session with audience members demanding to know why it’s so hard to get a new police chief; why the city isn’t investing more in communities of color and why the city hasn’t followed the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens sits  for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Tuesday he’s willing to consider proposals to require outside law enforcement agencies to investigate police-involved killings.

It’s a proposal that’s gaining more attention amid protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, stand next to the ResiSTL display table.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The protests in St. Louis over the last three weeks have topped the news almost daily.

Even for those who stay up on what’s happening, there may be questions about how this came to pass again, just three years after race-related protests in Ferguson.

Delving into St. Louis’ history of racial division and relations between police and black people can seem overwhelming. St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman set out to make a reading list with recommendations from people who are used to being asked.

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