Former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley sues former prosecutor - KMOV.com

Former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley sues former prosecutor

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Jennifer Joyce seen in a 2015 interview with KMOV. Jennifer Joyce seen in a 2015 interview with KMOV.
Former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley (Credit: Police) Former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley (Credit: Police)

ST. LOUIS (AP/KMOV.com) -- Former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley has filed a lawsuit against the prosecutor who charged him and the lead police officer on the case, claiming malicious prosecution and defamation. 

Stockley was found not guilty of first-degree murder in 2017 for the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith back in 2011. 

Read: Former St. Louis officer Stockley found not guilty

Wednesday, attorney Daniel Finney filed a lawsuit against Jennifer Joyce, the former St. Louis Circuit Attorney and St. Louis Police Lt. Kirk Deeken.  Joyce filed the charges against Stockley 2016 but the case was prosecuted under Joyce's successor to the office, Kim Gardner. It seeks at least $75,000 in damages.

A St. Louis police spokesperson declined comment.

The suit alleges some evidence was misrepresented, and other evidence that could have benefited his case was disregarded. His lawsuit said Joyce felt pressured to file charges due to a rash of other officer-involved shootings of black suspects. He also accused Joyce of lying to a judge when she claimed there was new evidence that led to charges nearly five years after Smith's death.

The suit calls their actions, "wanton, willful and outrageous." It reads that their actions caused "great and permanent damage to Jason Stockley's reputation and ability to work and live in his community." The suit says Deeken and Joyce are responsible for the protests and rioting that took place following the verdict.

Stockley contends he should have never faced charges in the shooting. 

"The larger reason and its not a cliché is because it is an injustice, it pertains to me, but it is not necessarily about Jason Stockley, it has to do when you have a prosecutor and a police officer willing to put charges on someone when they don't have the probable cause to support it," said Stockley, who was speaking to News 4 for the first time since the verdict.

He said he did not intend to kill Smith.

"The intention was always to stop the threat," said Stockley. 

Joyce, in a statement Wednesday night, called the lawsuit "frivolous."

I believe the Circuit Attorney’s Office had sufficient evidence to pursue charges against Jason Stockley for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. I believe these types of frivolous lawsuits are designed to discourage prosecutors from considering charges against police officers for violating the law. Our community deserves better than this. While this lawsuit may achieve a goal of headlines today, I have confidence that this will be resolved in my favor in a court of law.

The City Counselor said they are reviewing the lawsuit against Lt. Kirk Deeken and said it would inappropriate to comment at this time. 

The Not-Guilty Verdict

St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted Stockley in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Smith in September 2017.

“This court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant’s guilt. Agonizingly, this court has poured over the evidence again and again. This court has viewed the video evidence from the restaurant’s surveillance camera, the cameras in the police vehicle, and the cell phone video by the lay witness, over and over again – innumerable times,” read a portion of the court document.

Stockley could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole had he been convicted.

'The Kill Shot' and 'Planted Weapon'

During the trial, which began with opening statements on August 1, the prosecution argued that Stockley intended to kill, fired a “kill shot” and planted a gun following the fatal shooting. An FBI expert testified that one shot was fired at Smith from less than six inches away.

“The Court finds the State’s contention there was a fifth ‘kill shot’ fired by Stockley after a gap in time, is not supported by the evidence. No witness testified to hearing a shot separated in time from the first group of successive shots,” read the court document regarding the prosecution’s argument. “Antonio French, a witness for the state, testified that the gun shots were in rapid succession and that one shot was not separated in time from the other shots.”

In regards to a gun being planted, the court stated the State’s contention was not supported by the evidence.

“The gun was a full-size revolver and not a small gun, such as a derringer, that can fit in the palm of one’s hand or into the side pocket on a pair of pants without being obvious,” read the court document. “Stockley was not wearing a jacket; if he had such a gun in his possession it would have been visible on the cell phone video. The gun was too large to fit entirely within any of the pockets on the pants he was wearing, there was no bulge in any pocket indicating a gun within the pocket, and the gun would have been visible if it was tucked into his belt.”

Stockley Took The Stand

Stockley took the stand in his own defense during the trial. When he took the stand, he stated he was carrying his personal AK-47 because he valued his life and other people’s lives over the department policy that states personal weapons cannot be carried.

According to the court document, there was no evidence that Stockley fired his personal weapon. The court found that the possession of the gun might be a matter for departmental discipline but was not relevant to the criminal charges.

Protesting and Rioting

The verdict resulted in weeks of unrest in St. Louis City and County. Near-daily protests were held across the region.

Protests turned violent on several occasions, including on Sept. 15 near the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. 

Two officers were taken to the hospital after being hit by bricks, and a third was injured but refused treatment. In total, police say nine officers were injured throughout the day. The injuries include a broken jaw and a shoulder injury, police say. A Missouri State Trooper was also injured, authorities said.

This is developing story. Check back soon for additional details. 

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