DOWNTOWN – A gun that then-police Officer Jason Stockley said a suspect had reached for in his car, justifying Stockley’s shooting of the man in 2011, contained DNA from only the officer.
That evidence, along with a bystander’s cellphone videotaping of the incident, was withheld from court proceedings in the shooting death of fleeing suspect Anthony Lamar Smith, according to an independent investigation by the Bryan Cave law firm.
The report was addressed to then-Attorney General Chris Koster in November 2017. It came just two months after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Smith’s daughter, Autumn Smith.
The girl’s attorney, Albert Watkins, of the Kodner Watkins law firm, had written a letter in 2016 similar raising allegations. In a subsequent letter he voiced concern that the AG’s office had been less than responsive.
The suit was filed against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Board of Commissioners and Stockley, who had been found not guilty in court, setting off a massive protest downtown.
In an audio recording Stockley was heard saying, “I’m going to kill that mother f—–,” as he gave chase in a police vehicle after the suspected drug dealer.
After ramming his patrol SUV into Smith’s car, Stockley and another officer rushed to the window of Smith’s car. Just over fifteen seconds after reaching the window, Stockley fired four shots, killing Smith. The justification, he said, was that Smith had “reached for a weapon.” The weapon police say they recovered from Stockley’s car is the one the report says only had Stockley’s DNA on it.
Stockley was acquitted of murder in a criminal trial. The evidence was used there.
When police officers feel that their lives are in danger, they can legally use deadly force to defend their own life. The recent revelation in the Stockley case suggests that he lied about his life being in danger.
“When people say the criminal justice system does give a fair shake or gives breaks to police, they are not talking about abstractions,” said John Chasnoff of Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression. “Real people are impacted.”
“These revelations give us insights on bias and misconduct in the highest prosecutor’s office in the state,” continued Chasnoff, former program director at American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. “Those responsible should be held accountable professionally and in the courts.”
“We knew that was the case all along,” said Jeanette Culpepper, founding director of Families Advocating Safe Streets.
“They were talking about all of the dope the boy had on him, but what about what this officer did? They even showed him [Stockley] going in the bag in the car,” she said.