A St. Louis police union representing the city’s Black officers on Tuesday, Sept. 12, called for a conviction in the first-degree murder case of former patrolman Jason Stockley.
In a YouTube video posted this week, board members with the Ethical Society of Police called on Judge Tim Wilson to find Stockley guilty in the murder of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley, who’s white, fatally shot Smith after a police chase in December 2011, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Prosecutors have alleged that the ex-officer planted a firearm in Smith’s crashed Buick after shooting him five times at close range while the defense argued Stockley was only defending himself because he believed the young man had a gun.
“Over the course of that investigation, there were several things that we found alarming, that violated policy, that led us to believe that [Stockley’s] actions were that of someone that had committed murder, that he wasn’t defending himself in the line of duty,” Ethical Society of Police President Heather Taylor said. “Collectively as a board, we came to the decision that we need to support a conviction of Jason Stockley for murder.”
A statement on the police union’s website also highlights their concerns, including the fact that Stockley’s DNA was the only DNA evidence found on the gun in Smith’s car and that the then-officer never rendered aid to the young man using a “quick clot” he said he retrieved from his bag after the shooting.
The union’s demand for a conviction comes just days after similar calls from Black clergy who warned of potential unrest if the ex-patrolman was acquitted. A group of close to 25 clergy members congregated outside the courthouse Sept. 8, where they read their letter to Judge Wilson regarding the case.
“Any decision rendered by you other than a guilty verdict will make you liable for any ensuing unrest or acts of aggression,” their letter stated. “In biblical terms, ‘the blood will be on your hands.’ “
On Tuesday, interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole sent a department-wide memo outlining protocols ahead of the verdict, noting that public safety personnel throughout the region will be busier than normal and that “critical measures will be implemented.”
“Final steps are being taken to maximize our staffing efforts for the anticipated verdict announcement,” O’Toole wrote.
For former St. Louis officer Redditt Hudson, the need to wonder whether Stockley will be found innocent or guilty speaks to the need to address racism within the law enforcement community and how that impacts the communities they serve.
“Now is the time for all of us to call for the accountability for police officers all across this country,” said Hudson, co-founder of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability.
“We have to end the institutional racism that is at its foundation. We have to challenge the system from inside of it.”