ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A federal appeals court upheld the dismal of a defamation lawsuit filed by former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley whose acquittal in the death of a Black suspect set off weeks of protests.
Stockley accused investigators of intentionally disregarding and lying about evidence when he was charged with murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley was charged nearly five years later and filed the lawsuit following his 2017 acquittal.
U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw dismissed the civil case in February 2019. The judge said two people named in the suit — former St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and former St. Louis police internal affairs investigator Kirk Deeken — had either absolute or qualified immunity from being sued because of their positions. Shaw also ruled that Stockley's lawsuit failed to state claims "upon which relief can be granted."
In his lawsuit, Stockley alleged some evidence had been misrepresented and other evidence that could have benefited his case was disregarded. The suit alleged Joyce felt pressured to file charges after a rash of other officer-involved shootings of black suspects.
Stockley also accused Joyce of lying to a judge when she said there was new evidence that led to the charges being filed nearly five years after Smith's death. The suit also accused Deeken, the internal affairs investigator, of making false claims to grand jurors.
In his dismissal of the defamation allegations, Shaw said Stockley's legal team failed to prove that Joyce's statements deprived Stockley of any "liberty or property interest."
A panel of judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal.
Stockley was found not guilty by a judge in September 2017, setting off protests that led to hundreds of arrests and sometimes turned violent.