Facing protests, police chief appeals for calm after officer's acquittal
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis interim police chief Lawrence O'Toole is asking that people upset with the acquittal of a white former St. Louis police officer in the shooting death of a black man demonstrate peacefully.
In a statement released shortly after the acquittal of former officer Jason Stockley was announced Friday, Chief Lawrence O'Toole says the department understands that emotions are running high but that the judge's verdict should be respected.
Stockley shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase in 2011.
O'Toole says his department's top priority is protecting and serving citizens. He says the department is committed to protecting free speech rights but is also committed to upholding the city's laws.
Earlier Friday, about a dozen protesters gathered near the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.
Protesters shouted that the verdict is unfair and that they want justice.
Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson issued his ruling against 36-year-old Jason Stockley. Stockley could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole had he been convicted.
Stockley shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase. Stockley says he saw Smith holding a gun before the chase began, and that he felt he was in imminent danger.
Prosecutors alleged Stockley planted a gun in Smith's car after he shot him.
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