Mayor, police chief, ACLU release statements following Stockley - KMOV.com

Mayor, police chief, ACLU release statements following Stockley verdict

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – After Jason Stockley was found not guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, officials began releasing statements.

In his response to the verdict, Gov. Eric Greitens said he knows the verdict causes pain for same:

We know this verdict causes pain for many people. We have been in touch with city and county officials, and the State of Missouri will continue to assist them. I'm committed to protecting everyone's constitutional right to protest peacefully, while also protecting people's lives, homes, and communities. For anyone who protests, please do so peacefully.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said her thoughts and prayers are with Smith’s family, officials and everyone involved in the case:

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Anthony Lamar Smith, our police, judge, prosecutor, our citizens who find no comfort or justice, and everyone involved in this difficult case.

I am appalled at what happened to Anthony Lamar Smith. I am sobered by this outcome. Frustration, anger, hurt, pain, hope and love all intermingle. I encourage St. Louisans to show each other compassion, to recognize that we all have different experiences and backgrounds and that we all come to this with real feelings and experiences. We are all St. Louisans. We rise and fall together.

As Mayor, I will continue my work to create a more equitable community and do everything possible to keep all St. Louisans safe.

Acting St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence M. O’Toole released the following statement in which he asks citizens who choose to demonstrate to do so peacefully:

Today, Honorable Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson announced a not guilty verdict in the trial of ex- St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley for the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith on December 20, 2011. Throughout the investigation, our Department fully cooperated with both state and federal authorities as they examined the facts of the case. Judge Wilson rendered his ruling and as citizens of this community we must respect the judicial process.

While we know emotions are running high, our number one priority is protecting and serving our citizens. We ask that citizens who choose to demonstrate, do so peacefully.

We are committed to ensuring every citizen’s First Amendment rights, however, we are equally committed to enforcing the laws of our city while upholding our core values of service, integrity, leadership and fair treatment to all. We will continue our mission to strengthen community relationships and implement meaningful reforms that build trust among the citizens we serve.

St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones released the following statement regarding the verdict: 

First, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of Anthony Lamar Smith. Anthony isn't just someone whose name will be synonymous with Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, and the other black men who died in officer involved shootings. He was a father, son, friend, and real person. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. As a mother, I cannot imagine their loss.

Judge Wilson's decision leaves me with more questions than answers. Officer Jason Stockley yelled he would kill Smith on a recording less than a minute before ultimately doing so, yet he walks out of court today a free man. 

Jason Stockley's acquitttal will lead to protests and disruptions in the coming days and weeks. I do not advocate violence in response to the Wilson verdict. At the same time, the ultimate measure of how our community deals with this verdict is not how quickly we are able to get back to business, but whether we implement policy changes addressing injustice, racism, and inequality. We can no longer prioritize short-term order over long-term justice.

In his statement below, Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed said changes need to be made to the system to allow for transparent and independent investigations:

The judge made a decision to not convict in the Jason Stockley case. It is a decision that I personally deeply disagree with. I can’t imagine, considering the evidence made public, that Stockley was not found to be guilty of committing a crime. The community has the right to be frustrated by the decision and should exercise their right to protest this decision. But, we cannot resort to actions that will set us back further as a community. There must be changes made to our system to allow a transparent, independent investigation in cases like this. Our city and our country will not be able to move forward until a true level of fairness exists, not just in police shootings, but economics, education and everything else. The right to free speech must also be accompanied by the true goal of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We must directly address the concerns of the community and we must continue to work together for change until those rights are secure for everyone. 

U.S. Sen. Clair McCaskill's statement is below:

Some Missourians are sure to be pained by today's decision, and others will agree with the ruling, but the fact is that none of us can let it detract from the goals that we all should share—safer streets, where police have the trust of the communities they serve, and a system of justice that's fair to all of our citizens. The events in Ferguson shook our region to its core and forced us to face some tough realities. But since then, our law enforcement and the families and businesses they serve have begun talking and hearing each other. We can't let today's decision send us back to our respective corners. I know if we continue to have hard conversations in a candid, peaceful, and constructive way, we can make the kind of progress everyone in our state craves and deserves.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, released the following statement:

No outcome of this trial could ever bring back the life of Anthony Lamar Smith, a young man shot to death by Jason Stockley. I stand with the peaceful protestors, clergy and activists whose voices rise up, demanding that integrity and accountability be restored to our justice system before another black life is taken too soon.

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U.S. Senator Roy Blunt released the following statement: 

The family of Anthony Lamar Smith suffered a tragic loss. This is a difficult day for them, and for all St. Louisans who sought a different outcome in this case. The response to this verdict will have a lasting impact not just on the community, but the country. Every American has the right to protest peacefully, and should have no doubt that right will be protected. However, if this verdict is met with violence and destruction, it will do nothing but reignite the fear and anger that law enforcement and community leaders have worked tirelessly to address since Ferguson. If it is met with a renewed commitment to continuing the work that is needed to rebuild trust between law enforcement and those they serve, it will show the world how we, as Americans, move forward.

Congressman Lacy Clay, D, released the following statement regarding the verdict:

Once again, another young Black man dies at the hands of a police officer…with no consequences.

Jason Stockley acted as judge, jury and executioner. He violated multiple department regulations, and he showed a total disregard for the life of my constituent, Anthony Lamar Smith.

Justice has been cruelly denied for Anthony Lamar Smith’s family and this community. 

I stand in total solidarity with them in expressing my absolute outrage at this verdict.

Our communities need and respect good policing.  A few bad apples denigrate the entire force and place officers and citizens unnecessarily in harm’s way when they meet.  We must demand changes in local law enforcement to ensure all lives are respected and honored. There is no coming back after a life is taken, only sadness.   

Black Lives Matter, and that declaration is not meant to diminish or denigrate the value of any other group,

It is simply an honest statement of the ugly and very painful truth that in America, in 2017, some lives are still worth more than other lives.

Our young people are outraged and angry about that…and so am I.

This tragic case also underscores the urgent, fundamental question that our nation, our state, and our community have thus far failed to honestly address…how do we transform local law enforcement and our criminal justice system to finally provide equal justice under the law for all…instead of just for some.

The federal legislation that I have already introduced could provide some of the answers because it would mandate increased sensitivity training for all police officers to help them deescalate potentially violent situations before they become deadly.

My bill also requires the appointment of an independent prosecutor in all instances when police use deadly force. 

And my legislation incentivizes the use of body cameras by all local police departments who compete for Justice Department grants. 

These transformative changes would make a huge difference in bridging the trust deficit that still divides many police officers from the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.

The ACLU of Missouri extended their sympathies to the Smith family, their complete statement is below:

Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal today does not change the facts: Anthony Lamar Smith died unnecessarily, another casualty of excessive and deadly force by police against people of color.

We extend our sympathies to Mr. Smith’s family and loved ones. This region—and our country as a whole—have seen too many deaths caused by police, with little accountability for the officers or department involved.

Michael Brown. Philando Castile. Terence Crutcher. Alton Sterling. Tamir Rice.

We must say their names and those of the many others killed by police in recent years. In 2016, Black males between 15 and 34 years old were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers.  It is past time for Missouri and the country to say in one voice: “This cannot continue.”

While many police officers act respectfully toward those they serve, we must acknowledge how regularly communities of color experience racial profiling and abuse from local law enforcement, including here in the St. Louis region.  This is a longstanding and tragic trend that began well before the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 and has continued since.

The ACLU stands with those who will continue to fight for racial justice.

We hope this verdict is a wake-up call that the community and the police must come together now to build trust and ensure justice.  Each and every community member must have an equal say in the way their neighborhood is policed. To move forward, police and the people they serve must collaborate, be transparent, and communicate around the shared goals of equality, fairness, and public safety.

The president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber released the following statement: 

The court has issued its verdict, finding ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder.  As we noted last week, opinions on this verdict are divided.  We expect that some of our friends and neighbors will exercise their right to assemble and be heard.  Whether you agree with them or not, we ask everyone to respect the right of all people to demonstrate and call for change. 

Freedom of speech and assembly are at the core of American beliefs.  We have learned it is vital to listen to those demonstrating to hear the message they are sending.  This is the only way to find common ground, a path forward to bridging the divides between us. This path is what can lead us to positive, lasting change for our country.

While people have a right to protest, they do not have a right to hurt someone else or their property.  Violence will only further divide our community and set back what progress and healing we have made together over the last few years. We know we must do more.

We ask a great deal of our law enforcement officers and first responders every day, and know that what we ask them to do now is that much harder.  They are well-trained professionals and we know they are up to the task of protecting the rights of demonstrators while also keeping people and property safe. 

Our thoughts are with those families who have been affected by this tragedy. Our hopes are firmly planted in our region’s future.  Let us learn from each other’s fear, pain and frustration; let us work together to be the healing path forward.

Attorney General Josh Hawley released the following statement: 

The First Amendment guarantees the right of every American to peaceably assemble and express their views and their grievances. I encourage protestors to demonstrate peacefully, mindful of their safety and the safety of others. I know our law enforcement will work to keep them safe.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis:

In light of today’s announcement of the verdict in the Jason Stockley case, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis feels that justice has not been served in the death of another black man at the hands of law enforcement. This case is another example of why police-community relations are at an all-time low across this country. The results of this case and other cases of police shootings across this nation show that there are often no consequences to law enforcement for killing African Americans. These verdicts breed the hate, distrust and fear that we work to overcome daily. With all of the efforts to move our community forward in the past three years after the events in Ferguson, this is a major setback to improving racial relations in the St. Louis community. This outcome reflects the lack of civil rights and injustice that African Americans still experience every day in this society. The Declaration of Independence states “that all men are created equal”, but until justice truly has no color we are failing in achieving this goal. In the U.S. Constitution through the First Amendment, we are granted the right to free speech and the right to peaceably assemble and protest. We fully support peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations regarding today’s decision. At a time when the St. Louis region should be focused on improving our school systems, creating and attracting new jobs, increasing access to affordable healthcare and creating a more welcome and diverse community, this decision has once again taken us back in race relations and severely damaged our reputation across this nation. 

State Rep. Joshua Peters:

Nearly six years ago, Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year old father, was shot and killed by a St. Louis Police Officer on West Florissant. That it took this long for a trial is reason enough to be outraged. That Jason Stockley was found innocent given what evidence has been publicly available is an outrage. The manner in which evidence and investigation was handled was an outrage.

Two years ago, I proposed legislation to have the Missouri Highway Patrol take over the investigation of police shootings resulting in the death of an individual. Other states have done so to eliminate the obvious conflict of interest a police department has in investigating one of its own. I once again call on the Republican leadership of the House to give the people back a sense of justice, of fairness, of faith in our judicial process.

Years after the shooting of Michael Brown we seem to have learned nothing.

The knee-jerk reaction of the Governor to put the Missouri National Guard on alert, of the Trump Administration to remilitarize the police, of City Hall to say the city is ready to arrest people simply ratcheting up the rhetoric for political points. What are they preparing to do? To shoot down protestors in the streets because of the righteous indignation at a system they can no longer trust or believe in?

My hope and prayers are for peaceful protests that will show the nation the calm restraint and strength of the exercise of free speech. I hope and pray that those who continue to allow a flawed system of criminal justice to exist, where justice is selective, will finally be shamed by the eyes of a nation and do something to fix this broken system.

News 4 will continue to update this story with the latest statements from officials.

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