Prosecution: Officer "executed" suspect, "kill shot" six inches from body
Jason Stockley arrives at St. Louis courthouse on Aug. 1, 2017 (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – During opening statements in the first-degree murder trial against former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, the prosecution claimed Anthony Lamar Smith was trying to get away from police and did not deserve to be executed.
After arriving at the courthouse Tuesday morning, the prosecution gave their opening statement. In the statement, they argued that Stockley made bad, dangerous, and deadly decisions. They argue Stockley fired what they called a “kill shot,” that was six inches from Smith's body They also claimed Stockley planted a gun following the fatal shooting.
The defense argued that Smith created the violent encounter and fled from Stockley and his partner, putting himself and others at risk. They also claimed a gun was not planted and Stockley acted in self-defense and reasonably. The defense team argues that Smith was reaching for something in his car and that's when Stockley fired upon him.
The defense also claimed that both officers saw the gun Smith reportedly had. The defense lawyers and Stockley himself declined to comment on camera Tuesday.
While the incident occurred in 2011, charges were brought last year.
Stockley is the first on-duty officer to be charged in a shooting case since 2000. He will be declared guilty or innocence by a judge, not a jury, because he waived his right to a jury trial.
Tuesday, the prosecution presented half a dozen witnesses, including one man who captured cell phone video of the aftermath of the shooting from the second story of a nearby building. On the stand, he claimed the video "don't lie." Other witnesses were mostly crime scene techs.
The courtroom was full to capacity for much of the day, with some people being turned away after it was full. There are multiple layers of security at the courthouse, as deputies check people both as they enter into the courthouse and as they head in the courtroom. Electronic devices are not being allowed into the courtroom.
One person showed up outside the courthouse and was openly carrying two weapons. He claimed that he was there to support the prosecution and that he needed to be armed to protect himself.
The state's case will continue Wednesday,
The Circuit Attorney's Office later released the following statement:
Today marked the beginning of the trial of former St. Louis Police Metropolitan Officer Jason Stockley for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
As the Circuit Attorney, I believe people should be held accountable for violating the law, regardless of their occupation or social status. I also believe that it is my duty to ensure a fair and transparent process. This trial is open to the public and may take as long as two weeks. Judge Timothy Wilson will be deciding this matter as Mr. Stockley has waived his right to a jury trial.
While convictions of police officers are very difficult to secure, we are committed to presenting evidence to prove Mr. Stockley’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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