Friday morning, Honorable Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson announced a not-guilty verdict in the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley for the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011.
"This Court, in conscience, can not say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense", St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said in his ruling.
Forensic analysis revealed that Stockley's was the only DNA present on the gun he said belonged to Smith, the criminal complaint said. The ex-police officer waived his right to a jury trial, meaning the ruling was left to Judge Wilson.
Smith's killing has become a part of the national conversation around race and policing. Stockley says he saw Smith holding a gun before the chase began, and that he felt he was in imminent danger.
"Stockley's DNA profile was on every weapon he touched", the St. Louis Circuit Attorney said in a press release.
Stockley shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase.
The videos also showed Stockley returning to the squad auto twice after the shooting: first, to return an AK-47 rifle he personally owned but was not authorized to carry, and then to search through a bag in the back seat of the vehicle, the Post-Dispatch reported.
"Stockley, who is white, then shot Smith, who was black, five times through the driver's side window".
Prosecutors claimed that Stockley had fired his "kill shot" at Smith from just 6 inches away and then planted a revolver in Smith's auto to justify the shooting.
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During the trial's opening statements, Assistant Circuit Attorney Aaron Levinson told the court that Smith didn't deserve to be killed, even if he did break the law. "He may have fled from police, but he did not deserve to be executed".
Prosecutors said that Bianchi never fired his weapon and that he approached Smith's auto without his weapon drawn.
"We must judge the credibility and reasonableness of Stockley's actions through the simultaneous actions of Officer Bianchi's", the prosecution noted in its argument.
After Smith's auto slowed down near the intersection of Goodfellow and West Florissant, Stockley told the other officer to ram the vehicle, the probable cause statement said. There was also testimony from police and witnesses.
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What started off as peaceful protests throughout the streets of downtown St. Louis seems to have taken more violent turn.
Activists vowed a Ferguson-like, drawn out protest if Stockley was found not guilty.
"It's going to look a lot like Ferguson".
Police, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, have been preparing for the fallout, with barricades going up around the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse Thursday, and the St. Louis and St. Louis County police are preparing to have officers on 12-hour shifts Friday.More news: Florida nursing home deaths increase Irma's toll, and raise questions