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I'm not touching you...OK, I'm tasing and shooting you dead, but not touching you...
They always have to get shot. Why is that?

A former St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, has been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith following a car chase, despite a prosecution case that included video of Stockley saying during the chase, “Going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it” and evidence that Stockley fired the fatal shot into Smith from just six inches away. Stockley claimed he acted in self-defense.

At the risk of being biased fake news, we’ll mention here that Stockley is white and Smith was black.

Assistant Circuit Attorney Aaron Levinson had argued that while Smith had fled from police, and led them on a high-speed chase, the shooting itself was premeditated. The defense argued that Smith continued to struggle after Stockley and his partner, Brian Bianchi, rear-ended Smith’s car with their SUV, causing it to crash. The defense said Smith was reaching for a revolver found in his car; the prosecution alleged that after shooting Smith, Stockley planted the pistol, which tests showed only had Stockley’s DNA on it.

Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson, who decided the case after Stockley waived his right to a jury trial, wasn’t convinced by the prosecution’s case:

In his decision dated Friday, Wilson wrote that the state had not met the burden of proof. Wilson wrote that Stockley’s conduct was not consistent with the conduct of a person who intentionally killed another person unlawfully. Wilson wrote that he had “agonizingly … poured [sic] over the evidence again and again” and watched the videos “innumerable times.”

“The Court believes it is significant that defendant Stockley and Smith did not know each other prior to December 20, 2011, they had no prior history, there was no history between Stockley and members of Smith’s family, and there was no basis in the evidence to suggest any pre-existing animosity by Stockley towards Smith,” Wilson wrote. “There was also no evidence that Stockley even knew who was being pursued.”

Yr Wonkette is not a lawyer, but we’re fairly sure that being on a first-name basis with someone isn’t necessary to prove premeditation, only that the killer went into the situation with the intent to kill. We may watch too many TV shows, though. Maybe the prosecutors do, too? They note in their argument for a guilty verdict that Missouri law demands only that the state “prove that a defendant knowingly causes the death of another person after deliberation upon the matter,” and that deliberation “means cool reflection upon the matter for any length of time no matter how brief.” Again, we’re just amateurs, but that doesn’t sound like Smith had to be on Stockley’s Christmas card list for the shooting to be murder.

As to Stockley’s state of mind before shooting Smith, the prosecution’s brief has this:

At 12:41:30 in the dash cam video, Stokley tells Bianchi “We’re killing this motherfucker, don’t you know”. Forty-five seconds later, he fatally shot Smith.

During the trial’s opening statements, Levinson acknowledged Smith had a record of drug and firearm offenses, and that he was fleeing the police:

“Anthony Smith didn’t deserve to die on Dec. 20, 2011, but Jason Stockley took his life anyway and tried to cover it up,” Levinson said. “He may have fled from police, but he did not deserve to be executed.”

The December 2011 chase started when Stockley and Bianchi saw Smith in what they believed was a drug deal in a parking lot; according to Stockley’s attorney, Neil Bruntrager, both officers said they’d seen a revolver in Smith’s Buick before he backed out of a parking space, hitting the police SUV and almost hitting Stockley, then fled. Stockley fired seven shots at Smith’s car as it drove away.

Then the cops chased Smith for 3 miles at speeds of almost 90 mph:

After Bianchi and Stockley rear-ended Smith’s car, both officers got out, and Stockley fired several pistol shots into the car, then put his rifle back into the police SUV. Four bullet casings were found outside Smith’s car; one was found inside the driver’s side, which Levinson said probably was the close-range shot that killed Smith.

Once police pulled Smith’s body out, Stockley climbed into the Buick’s driver side. Police reports say Stockley’s DNA — but not Smith’s — was on the .38-caliber Taurus revolver police said was found in Smith’s car. Stockley told investigators he unloaded the revolver as a safety precaution. Police also found in the car a bag of heroin that had only Smith’s DNA on it.

The prosecution also questioned why Stockley would have handled the revolver without rubber gloves, and noted that video showed Stockley walked back to Smith’s car at least four times after the shooting, getting into the car while other officers stood nearby.

Judge Wilson didn’t find the prosecution’s assertion that the gun was planted convincing:

The state’s contention that Stockley planted a handgun, wrote Wilson, “is not supported by the evidence.”

In one line, Wilson wrote that based on his nearly 30 years on the bench, that “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”

Heck, maybe in Judge Wilson’s extensive experience, he knows that heroin dealers regularly keep weapons on the front seats of their cars without getting their own fingerprints or DNA on them, because they’re just that sneaky.

HuffPo notes that in a separate civil case,

The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners paid a $900,000 settlement in 2013 as part of a wrongful death suit filed on behalf of Smith’s daughter, who was 1 year old at the time of his killing.

But isn’t that how these things go? The city or the police department settle in a civil lawsuit for wrongful death, pay out some money, and then the cop who actually pulled the trigger walks, because when do cops ever not walk?

St Louis is preparing for lots and lots of angry protests. Expect the usual apologetics for cops who had to kill someone because they were resisting. If only everyone would just stop resisting, everything would be fine. And why do people have to get so darned upset that they protest the police doing their jobs, sometimes with murderous glee? Just calm down, everyone, and stop resisting.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Click here to support us and we promise we’ll post more stuff about kittens. Unless the kittens resist arrest.

[HuffPo / St Louis Post-Dispatch / Missouri v. Stockley, Memorandum in Support of a Guilty Verdict]

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  • Sheepshagger
  • armed_bears

    In one line, Wilson wrote that based on his nearly 30 years on the bench, that “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.

    Nicely done, judge: Saves the prosecutor from having to make this assertion and back it up with pesky facts.

    • Sheepshagger

      “Urban”

      • Resistance Fighter Astraea

        Yeah.

      • Spurning Beer

        Yeah. Country singer born in New Zealand. I don’t get it either.

        • Sheepshagger

          Neither does Nicole Kidman now.

      • schmannity

        Suburban and rural heroin dealers use slingshots.

        • armed_bears

          From their Subaru Santa Fe.

          • Shawn Renee Ernoehazy

            Hyundai Santa Fe. I’m a Subaru fan, they never created anything as fugly as the Santa Fe.

      • Shalimar

        Everyone knows rural people don’t carry guns.

        • BlissfulScribbler

          Nah, they all have guns, but those are responsible people. (/s)

    • Rags

      Evidence. How the fuck does it work?

  • Covfefe’s Evil Twin

    So it had to be either premeditated murder or self-defense? Nothing in between, like “shitty fucking copping”, negligent homicide, manslaughter, anything?

    • Rebel Scum with permit

      That was my thought. And again, a lawyer would tell me not to quit my non existent day job, but maybe the prosecutor overcharged (again?).

  • schmannity

    2011??? It’s all Obama’s fault.

  • Alan

    Different rules of evidence for police.

  • Zippy W Pinhead

    Whelp, there should be plenty of material for the next DSFB once the cop apologists see this…

  • whitroth

    Lie back and think of the Flag? Think of Melania? Or of Ivanka?

    I’d *looove* to see Donnie, with his skin dyed dark brown (instead of orange), driving a Caddie in some areas…

    • Shanzgood

      A BMW or Volvo would get him pulled over faster.

    • doktorzoom

      That’s damn close to a violation of the rules, but since we all know if someone’s doing nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear, I’ll let it go this time.

      — Dok Zoom, Yr Friendly Neighborhood Comments Moderator

      • whitroth

        Dok, what I *was* thinking was how fast he’d get pulled over, argue, get busted for resisting an officer, dragged off to jail, and have to wait to bail out… and then repeat on the way home, and repeat the next day, and….

  • whitroth

    And what was Stockley doing with a fucking AK-47 in the cop car, if what I read is correct?

    • UncleTravelingMatt

      He was violating Department policy by possessing the AK-47 pistol, as he admitted on the stand. However, carrying a backup weapon is not the least bit unusual among police officers, and such policies are generally ignored in favor of officer safety.

  • Scooby

    Usually a bench trial is like pleading guilty in slow motion.

    • schmannity

      Bench trials are preferred if you are white and the venire isn’t 100% white.

  • VirginiaWackelpudding

    How does one bag of heroin a dealer make? Wasn’t it more likely that he was the buyer?

  • Mysterious Masked Wrestler

    “there was no basis in the evidence to suggest any pre-existing animosity by Stockley towards Smith”
    It’s called racism, dumbass.

    • Bub, the cynical zombie

      I was thinking just that as I read that passage.

    • Rebel Scum with permit

      Or how about a rage killing? Does the State of Missouri recognize second degree murder? It sounds like Officer Friendly was enraged at this man for hitting his vehicle and fleeing.

      • cmd resistor

        Is this one of those things where it was overcharged, maybe? I haven’t read the opinion or anything but since they are lucky to get any kind of criminal charge against a cop, seems like going for a lower level than first degree might have worked better. But then, not with this judge, if he can make up stuff like a requirement of pre-existing animosity.

        • Sakonyachen

          Considering how closely DAs have to work with police, they most likely overcharged it on purpose. Should the judge have seen that the evidence wouldn’t support murder one? Probably. Racism is deep here. I’m not sure how people don’t know that the south’s reputation is Missouri’s reality. I’m sure the judge knew the case was shit from the jump, which is why he decided to hear it when there was sketchy evidence requiring speculation on the planting of evidence. The statement that they were going to kill him shows intent, but it’s not like a cop in pursuit can just excuse himself from the situation. They had to know this would fail. I did. Closest I got to lawyering was making copies for law firms.

        • Rebel Scum with permit

          Agreed. Isn’t that what second degree murder is about? The old example was you come home, discover your partner having sex with another person, are overcome with rage, and kill them. It’s still murder, but was not a premeditated act, and you might get 25 years to life as opposed to the death penalty.

    • Resistance Fighter Astraea

      I have a feeling the judge shares that pre-existing condition.

      • Sakonyachen

        In St. Louis? Who would have thought? Except for the former neo-Nazi that told me that this was the most racist place he’d ever been, including ‘Bama.

  • doktorzoom

    Also, please do not panic. An actual non-depressing Open Thread story is on the way shortly.

    Had this been an actual Open Thread, you would have been advised where to tune in case of crippling depression.

    • Thanks Dok. I needed a wee bit of a perk up

    • Crystalclear12

      *climbs off ledge and back into building*
      Ok,.

    • Zippy W Pinhead

      that’s awfully ableist of you (j/k)

      • doktorzoom

        Hmmm… Handi-Capable depression?

        (the director of the U of Az. Disability Resource Center told me “handi-capable” made him want to vomit)

        • SomeoneHasToSayIt

          That was my response as a child when I heard it.

          “Is this idiot giving me celebratory happy-talk about me being deaf? Am I going to have to find a chair, pull it over here, climb up on it, and slap this silly man?”

          • Sakonyachen

            You. I like you.

            I think that making a disability sound like a bonus is dishonest and lazy. If anything, tell the kid they are going to have to try twice as hard as everyone else, and they can proud when they don’t let it hold them back.

        • Sakonyachen

          I agree with the director. So they’re different, doesn’t mean you have to over emphasize it by making it sound like a blessing. It reminds me of white people who act like every black person is a sparkling angel because they are so concerned they might be racist for .01 seconds. Funny thing is, thinking someone is perfect because of their skin color is still racist.

    • mancityRed6
  • Crystalclear12

    I am surprised and shocked at this verdict.
    *sigh*

  • janecita

    Cops will be going to jail when they start killing the very white, and in some cases affluent, suburban drug dealers.

    • mancityRed6

      nope. sorry, but not a chance.
      and that is shit

    • Resistance Fighter Astraea

      Which won’t happen since the disproportionate killing of black men is motivated by racism.

    • Sakonyachen

      Since they are also known as doctors, I don’t see it happening.

      • Arolpin

        From what I’ve been told, if you’re white, not destitute, and willing to distribute to your friends/roommates, you can buy from any number of 7-figure apartments in NYC. If you don’t have those connections, it’s usually a welfare hotel in your local ‘white, working-class’ neighborhood.

        I hear about a lot more busts in the welfare hotels, but you never hear about them shooting a white dealer.

        Hell, if you’re in NJ they recently let some white guy with hundreds of baggies of heroin out on $5,000 bond (NJ is trying to eliminate the issue of cash bail being punitive to lower-income defendants, but in this case they were stupid, especially since the guy is very likely to try and flee the country.)

  • Spotts1701, Nothingburger Chef

    How convenient of the dead guy to wipe all of his fingerprints and DNA off the gun on the off-chance he was involved in a high-speed chase that ended in his death. So neat and tidy.

  • mancityRed6

    they were talking about this on the local talk radio. with a guy who had actually read all 30 or so pages of the judgement.
    “Forty-five seconds later, he fatally shot Smith.”
    yeah, I guess the judge didn’t think it was premeditated since it didn’t immediately happen right after that was said. I didn’t know it was only 45 seconds though. that’s just a what the fuck moment right there.
    and there was video, apparently, maybe…of Stockley taking his gloves off and getting into the back of the cruiser. his lawyer’s reasoning was that he was getting something to stop the bleeding. but in this day and age, if you’re dealing with bodily fluids of someone you don’t know, would you take the gloves off? I had a UPS driver tell me 21 years ago that I needed to bandage a cut before I could sign off on a delivery.

    • Gloves are a must when dealing with fluids. And they need to stay on for the entire duration of the event. And if you just shot someone, tnose gloves are fucking evidence.

      • mancityRed6

        we pulled a pump up by Leavenworth (the prison, not the city).
        it was plugged ’cause all the employees flush their rubber gloves. they wear dark blue ones.
        well, that and other stuff.
        you don’t want to know.

        • No. No i do not. My office orders nitrile gloves by the multiple gross weekly.

          • mancityRed6

            the least offensive things were the candy wrappers.
            the other prison pump I’ve pulled had these cute little 2″ toothbrushes.
            (so they couldn’t be made into weapons)

          • Canned Covfefe

            I don’t know where I thought you worked but it wasn’t some where that needed nitrile gloves. Another reminder of the details about folks here that I cleary just make up.

          • I work for a community home care agency. The gloves are a must for our nurses and personal support workers

      • UncleTravelingMatt

        Six officers were on scene. The shooter wouldn’t have touched the victim. That’s Police 101 — the shooter doesn’t touch the victim if there is anyone else available to render aid. As for the gloves, they were secured in a police vehicle, in the exact condition they were in at the time of the shooting, ready to be bagged, tagged, and tested. Procedurally perfect. The defense claimed he took them off to feel around in the duffel; I would have said he was preserving evidence.

    • doktorzoom

      Oh, and he suffered no injuries. What bleeding?

      He is the exact opposite of the black knight in Monty Python “Only a flesh wound? You haven’t got a scratch on you!”

      • mancityRed6

        sorry, under reported.
        something to stop the massive bleeding in the guy he just shot five times.

        • doktorzoom

          Ahhhhh. The guy massively bleeding from multiple GSWs, not a drop of which got on the revolver he was reaching for. I hadn’t even considered that.

          • mancityRed6

            see, he was trying to save his life for trial when he planted that shitty gun he carried for just such an emergency.

          • doktorzoom

            Thanks — I never see the big picture.

          • mancityRed6

            I read it in a news article earlier today.
            the “boss” is technically gone, so unlimited internet for me at work.

          • It’s all the little negatives…hard to see everything

          • mancityRed6

            keep that google news page open and refresh often. that’s how I heard of the Wonkette.

    • Wolf Tracker

      Here is the video:

      http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/officer-s-kill-shot-was-fired-six-inches-from-anthony/article_22fce07d-70a6-5ce3-8bcd-b1567f53ed46.html

      Watch the right side when he gets in the vehicle. He sure looks to be hiding whatever he got out of the duffel.

      • mancityRed6

        “Bruntrager said Tuesday that no conclusions can be drawn from Stockley’s DNA on the gun because he unloaded it and “rendered it safe” after the shooting. He argued there can be no conclusions drawn from the lack of Smith’s DNA on the revolver and said Stockley told his sergeant, Colin Rumpsa, he saw a silver revolver in Smith’s car before Stockley looked inside.”
        that’s bullshit.
        and the SKS (semi auto AK-47 clone) that Stockley had was _not_ department approved.

        • Wolf Tracker

          It is a hard case for the judge and I can see both sides but that cop acted suspicious as hell.

          • mancityRed6

            it would have been a hard case if they had found drugs in the car. which, I haven’t seen any mention of.
            but premeditated murder is and can be longer than 45 seconds. hell, it might be years before I get…I’ve said too much.

          • Wolf Tracker

            They found heroin in the car.

          • mancityRed6

            well, shit.
            still, not a death penalty.

          • Wolf Tracker

            Agreed. He would have went to prison for a long time for the hit and run which could be called attempted murder on a cop plus the high speed and heroin.

            Cops threat on video shows he is not fit to be a cop and should be fired regardless of judges decision and still may be.

        • aureolaborealis

          Is that true? Stockley used this gun on the job? That seems completely crazy to me.

          http://14544-presscdn-0-64.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/norinco_sks_a1.jpg

    • Canned Covfefe

      The age of AIDS craziness.

  • Martini Ambassador 🍸

    I’VE JUST ABOUT HAD IT WITH THESE MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLES ON THIS MOTHERFUCKING PLANE(T)
    https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/908688993977585665
    https://twitter.com/RawStory/status/908742830453116928

    • Wolf Tracker

      Only on duty since 2016. They need to see if there is a problem in the whole department when that shit happens.

    • Zombishroom

      Must not fap to hot neo-nazi cop.

      • mancityRed6

        if any of his “ovens” comments doesn’t turn you off, then you indeed do have a problem.

        • Zombishroom

          Yeah, kind of boner killer.

          • mancityRed6

            thank you.

    • Marceline

      When I saw people fawning over this shot I knew it was just a matter of time before we found out that at least one of them was a white supremacist or neo-Nazi.

    • Mavenmaven

      The thought of killing Jews makes him sleep better at night.

    • Mysterious Masked Wrestler

      Police departments are filled with people like that. It’s about goddamn time this comes out. Also, stop fetishizing random dudes, Internet weirdos. Last time it was that felon, now it’s some neo-nazi asshole with a giant nose and a weird-ass caricature chin.

      • The Librarian

        Funny, he kinda looks Jooish. Bada boom!*

        *No flames, written or otherwise, please. Iz a Joo.

    • The Librarian

      Maybe a “tour” in a “camp” (aka prison) would cure him of his “affliction”. I know, I know, it’s probably not considered a hate crime, but if you’re a cop, maybe it should be?

      • Buzz1313

        Last month I was in Paris and went to Père Lachaise. I saw a half dozen monuments to victims of the Nazis. Fully grown man that I am, I almost started bawling right there. But I got super pissed about these modern day Nazis- do they think this shit is a joke?! There’s nothing at all funny about their “jokes”. People died- how do they not get that?!

        • The Librarian

          Yes, I can imagine. I visited Dachau many years ago and I wasn’t prepared for how hard it hit me. The Nazis we have here should have to spend the night in one of those barracks. They’d be singing a different tune.

          • Buzz1313

            Especially when you consider the numbers- Gainesville has a population of 131,00. The Nazis killed that many at once according to one of the monuments I saw. Someone oughta ask this cop how he’d feel waking up to find the population of his town and everyone he knew within it dead.

          • The Librarian

            There is no thought process involved when people like him make such remarks, there is only anger/fear for some imagined boogeyman.

    • Canned Covfefe

      WHAT MARTINI SAYS. Only with lots of !!!ll111!s

  • Wolf Tracker

    Just watched the video and the way that cop got into the back seat to get something out of the duffel bag sure looks like he was making every effort to hide what he got out from the camera.

    That and no fingerprints on the handgun sure looks like it was murder and a cover up and they were right to charge him.

    The judge is going to take alot of heat on this one and I wonder if they can get the decision reviewed in Fed court?

    I also read this is the judges last decision from the bench as he is 70 and reached mandatory retirement.

  • Skwerl the Nazi Puncher

    “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”

    “urban”=”black” so obviously justified in the judges eye.

    • mancityRed6

      I’ve had friends who were pistol whipped because they had some weed, if I’m dealing, I’m packing.

    • mfp, all 6s&7s&9s

      yeah, well…if the esteemed judge was really up on his ‘urban dealer’ weaponry, he’d know that said dealer would be much more likely to have a slimmer, easier-to-conceal semi auto 9mm, not that big-ass bulky taurus .38

  • Daniel

    I know it’s kind of middle class and Guardianista of me, but I find that rural heroin has a charm that the urban kind just lacks. I know it’s mostly just the packaging, but I love that unfinished paper it comes in with the little hand-stamped labels and the rustic effect on the syringe. It’s just cosy.

    • mancityRed6

      it’s all that extra baby laxative they cut it with.

  • Marceline

    The commenting rules won’t allow me to say what I really think but the truth is that justice for victims of police violence will never come through the legal system.

    • Wolf Tracker

      It does sometimes and not all judges and police are corrupt but we do have a serious problem in how cops are trained and picked and the way they handle cases through interior review needs to change.

      • Angela Ruzzo

        That’s true, but the problem starts at the top. Bad police administration, bad senior officers, and a faulty reward system are also to blame. Now that I think about it, that was the same problem in Viet Nam. Which reminds me, Ken Burns’ “The Viet Nam War” starts on Sunday.

        • Eileen Besse

          Thank you. I know it as “Viet Nam.” Got shortened to “Vietnam” ’cause idiots.

          • Angela Ruzzo

            I always used to cringe when LBJ pronounced it “Vee-yet Naam.”

          • Oneofthebobs

            People used to say “Russia” when they meant “Soviet Union”. Now, I catch myself saying “Soviet Union” when I mean “Russia”.

        • Canned Covfefe

          I can only watch Burns’ documentaries with closed captions otherwise I start yelling. He is very good. For me though the pacing is like a slow drip right next to my ear.

          • Angela Ruzzo

            I keep waiting for important bits that he ends up leaving out, possibly because he runs out of time. For example, in his excellent series on WWII, he never once mentioned all the military nurses who volunteered, and who worked under very difficult conditions, sometimes under fire. Like my mother, for example, who left Brooklyn to nurse German POWs in England while her own fiance was on the front lines in France and Germany, and her two brothers in the Pacific, and her mother dying of cancer back home.

  • Grumpy Twat

    Not pouring over the evidence as much as pissing on it.

    • doktorzoom

      It was such an outrageous statement that I plumb forgot to ding him on writing “pouring” instead of “poring.”

      Edit: Plumb forgot or plum forgot? I forget.

      • Eileen Besse

        Excused.

    • Zippy W Pinhead

      it seems to be the wonket theme of the day

      • And every day unti, that fucking pee tape gets unleashed

      • Grumpy Twat

        Is “wonket” the masculine form of Wonkette?:-)

        It is quite an appropriate theme for yr correspondent in a different time zone as I have now been drinking for much of the day and am currently mildly drunk typing and in desperate need of porcelain.

        • Zippy W Pinhead

          not sure where I picked that up- it might be quasi styleguide item from back in the day when one of the writers was mimicking a DSFB candidate

          • Grumpy Twat

            Whatever the source, I like the notion of happy little wonkets and their little wonkette friends, leurs petites amies wonkettes, holding hands and skipping through the meadows as they unleash a torrent of snark, bile and abuse towards deserving numbskulls.

  • Sakonyachen

    They haven’t gone past the point of focusing on how the protesters are acting yet. All local news is fixated on the protests and not the fact that the judge threw in a quip about how he’s never heard of an unarmed “urban” heroine dealer. After all his careful deliberation on the facts, he throws this in like it explains the circumstances after he plainly stated the evidence doesn’t show anything. He didn’t say it proved the gun wasn’t planted, just that it doesn’t prove Stockley planted it, which coupled with the range of the shot and his comments before the encounter would be premeditated murder. Nobody is talking about the fact that he threw his bias in there after his analysis of the actual facts, they’re just wondering if they can get to the ball game.

    • mfp, all 6s&7s&9s

      team is in CHI…that’s why judge waited til today to release verdict, team was in town all week til today…and stl-ans need no excuse to ignore white bias, racism and facts, trust me

      • Sakonyachen

        After 44 years of this area, I know it too well.

  • Hamilton Ω, AKA Formerly DN

    This pisses me of to an infinite degree.

    And yet…
    And yet, we all just have to roll over and let these asshole cops get away with murder because, what the fuck else can be done about it?

    This shit makes me feel fucking helpless and that’s the worst thing for me these days.

    • Angela Ruzzo

      You can write letters to the appropriate people, and also to national news media. Sometimes it works, if enough people do it.

  • UncleTravelingMatt

    Look, I am as hard on cops as anybody here — probably worse than almost anyone — but this was a shit case that centered around 2 really shitty theories and some really inflammatory, but completely useless, “evidence.”

    First, people don’t leave DNA like a fucking slime trail on everything they touch. Contrary to what people see on TV, DNA is really difficult to pick up off surfaces. The absence of a person’s DNA on a given surface is not proof that they didn’t touch that surface. That was inflammatory, but otherwise meaningless, evidence. The judge heard 2 expert witnesses — both called by the state — who told him exactly that.

    Second, the State alleged that Stockley fired four shots, then paused, and fired the “kill shot.” Their evidence? What they characterize as a “puff of smoke” a few seconds after the shooting. Two eyewitnesses testified that all the shots happened at once, with no pause. The judge noticed no smoke from the first four shots, and questioned why, if the gun was fired while inside the passenger compartment of the car — as the state claimed — there would be a “puff of smoke” near the officer’s head. The judge concluded that it was not smoke, but rather the officer exhaling.

    Third, the State claimed Stockley planted the gun. They offered no evidence of this except the testimony of the Wilson’s passenger (who was left behind at the chicken joint, and who had apparently changed his story several times) and the aforementioned DNA. The judge is very clear that he was not convinced, after watching all the video, that Stockley had the gun. It was not visible on his person, and the judge claims it didn’t appear that it would have fit in his pockets. I agree with the judge — who has about twice my experience with felony drug cases — that it would be highly fucking unusual for a heroin dealer to not have a firearm. Further, prior to the chase, when Smith was fleeing the parking lot, the other officer believed he saw a gun, and yelled “Gun!”

    Four. The State’s premeditation argument is undercut by several bits of evidence. When Stockley approached the vehicle his sidearm was holstered. He did not run up to the car with his weapon drawn (even though Bianchi did.) Instead, he tried, and failed, to pull the door open. He repeatedly yelled at Smith to show his hands. He warned a third officer to “watch his hands.” It could be that Stockley is — as the state argued — one sly motherfucker who planned and executed a murder and its coverup in less than three minutes, but the obvious answer is usually the right one.

    Oh, and the medical examiner (again, the State’s witness) couldn’t explain the entry wound in Smith’s lower left abdomen in any way that didn’t involve Smith turning and reaching to his right. So there’s that.

    I’ve gone to juries with less than this reasonable-doubt-wise and come away with acquittals.

    • Wolf Tracker

      Did you watch the video?

      http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/officer-s-kill-shot-was-fired-six-inches-from-anthony/article_22fce07d-70a6-5ce3-8bcd-b1567f53ed46.html

      Watch the right side when the cop gets into the back to get something out of the duffel and it sure looks like he is intentionally blocking the camera so he could wipe something clean and then hide it from the camera as he exits.

      • UncleTravelingMatt

        I have. You are falling into the same speculation trap that the State did. Why wipe it off? Why not just keep his gloves on? That way he wouldn’t have to explain his DNA on it. Oh right, the State says he took his gloves off so there would be a reason for his DNA to be on the gun. I’d take that bullshit theory to the jury any day of the week.

        • Wolf Tracker

          Because it would have already had his DNA on it from being out in the duffel or from fibers or other materials inside the duffel.

          He retrieved it from the car and unloaded it so if his DNA was not on it that would be suspicious.

          • UncleTravelingMatt

            That’s not how DNA works. That’s not how DNA collection works. As a cop — and especially as a Field Training Officer — he would know that.

          • Canned Covfefe

            Thank you. I appreciate your explaining these things.
            I’m not sure yet if this changes anything but does make me consider.

            There are a couple of true crime podcasts that I’ve also found oddly satisfying. They go into this kind of detail and from different angles. It’s refreshing.

          • UncleTravelingMatt

            You’re welcome. I dislike and distrust cops, but not nearly as much as I dislike appeals to mob justice and asshole prosecutors who try to get convictions by using the press to rile up the townsfolk with half-truths and nonsense.

          • CovfefeOfTheThoughtlessMind

            Unfortunately enough bad cops have poisoned the well that benefit of the doubt is no longer tenable in shooting cases. Every cop’s reports and testimony must be viewed with extreme skepticism, if not the presumption of outright lying. And judges, juries, and especially police unions and cops unwilling to police their own have made this situation the dismal and deadly mess it is.

    • doktorzoom

      Actually, thanks for that perspective. I haven’t studied the case closely, and still am inclined to think Stockley had a rage case going (also found the prosecution memorandum pretty compelling), but as an amateur, I really appreciate your professionally-informed perspective.

      Yeah, I’d be a terrible juror, too. “Oh! That’s a good argument!”

      • UncleTravelingMatt

        I’m sure he was pissed. Reading the judge’s decision, though, he focused on exactly the things I saw when I first watched the video. (He was also extremely thorough in his review.) I don’t think this was even a close case.

    • Me not sure

      Shouldn’t Shockley have had rubber gloves to handle evidence with? If proper police procedure had been followed there would be no way for Shockley’s DNA to be on the weapon or the heroin. Being in a hurry once the man was shot dead makes no sense to me. He corrupted the crime scene. Why?

      • UncleTravelingMatt

        Cops wearing rubber gloves to handle evidence is largely an invention of television. We expect cops fingerprints to be on stuff. He didn’t “corrupt” the crime scene. He was the shooter. His presence at the crime scene is a given.

        Honestly, one of the greatest gifts ever give the criminal defense bar was the “police procedural” in general and CSI in particular. We’ve been relying on people’s knowledge of fictional science and nonsense procedures for years.

        • Me not sure

          Got it.

      • UncleTravelingMatt

        There is only one part of the video that causes me to question their following proper procedure, and it is irrelevant. One of the officers probably should have approached from the passenger side. Otherwise, I didn’t see one damned thing (the AK pistol excepted) that was the least bit unusual or improper.

    • How about fingerprints? I guess those are really difficult to collect off guns too.

      • Jan Ray

        Yes, actually. It is legitimately hard to find usable prints off a gun. Guns usually have textured grips and it’s hard to get a complete print lifted off a textured surface. The other parts of the gun tend to be slick, oily surfaces. Impressions are usually overlapping and get smudged with handling and movement. If the officer was telling the truth and the gun was found between the console and passenger seat, just the act of taking it out would’ve meant the surface was rubbed alongside parts of the car’s interior.

    • Jan Ray

      Based on what I had read and heard on TV about the case, I was pretty convinced the Stockley was guilty. I wanted to read the judge’s ruling myself because I couldn’t understand how this happened. Once I did, I honestly couldn’t reconcile my initial opinion with the facts presented in the case. The prosecution just didn’t have a whole lot of strong evidence. Even their own DNA witness put holes in their planted gun claim. I really encourage people to read it for themselves, because I don’t think a lot of the people writing about the case or commenting on it have actually gone through the ruling themselves. The judge’s findings were actually pretty logical given all the facts, and it was a reminder to me that I’m my own personal biases can lead me to rush to judgment.

  • doktorzoom

    Also, not that this story isn’t important — it is, but it’s also rage-inducing — if you’re looking for weekend open-threading, that’s up now, and it’s a weird one: https://wonkette.com/622980/gross-fox-sports-douche-man-under-impression-cnn-is-own-personal-beer-commercial

  • Angela Ruzzo

    Here’s an interesting tidbit. I had to take a disabled friend to the VA Hospital for an MRI this afternoon. I sat in the waiting room with him and about 10 other middle-aged white veterans waiting for MRIs for about 30 minutes, because they were running behind. This story was on the TV in the waiting room. And every single white veteran in the room, and their families, agreed that this was a bad verdict, that the cop should have been found guilty, and that the gun was planted, and that they didn’t blame the protestors for being upset. I was a bit surprised, I must admit. I should stop making assumptions about people.

    • Wolf Tracker

      Most people have had some run in with the law that makes them understand cops are not always honest and the video and his own words sure made this cop look guilty.

      • Angela Ruzzo

        One elderly guy from Muncie, IN who was sitting in the waiting room shared a story about his misspent youth. When he was about 22 and fresh out of the Army, he went to a bar with his brother and a friend, and he saw a pretty black woman sitting alone at the bar, so he asked her to dance. She danced with him. Then her boyfriend showed up, and an argument ensued, which ended up moving out to the parking lot. Black guy took out a gun and shot the guy and his brother, the friend wrestled with the black guy and got the gun and shot the black guy. None of them were seriously injured. All four went to the hospital, where the police arrested the black guy, but the Prosecuting Attorney later dropped the charges, saying “We’ve had so many race problems lately, that we don’t need any more trouble, so we’re dropping the charges.” If this story was true (and I took it with a small grain of salt) then my goodness, some things have changed in 40 years.

        • CordeliaJWhalen

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          • Sakonyachen

            Totally appropriate reply. I do like that name Gretchen though.

      • LadyLaz

        This. I just explained this to my dad, old generally liberal white dude who got on the “why don’t black people improve their culture” horseshit. I said, my white boy middle class husband had exactly TWO bad run ins with the cop over a forty-year life. Those two were enough to poison his well. How corrosive do you think egregious policing and stop and frisk might have been on the black culture?

  • Oneofthebobs

    I always wonder why someone would attempt to escape from a guy who just wants to shoot them.

    • phoenix00

      James Bond could not be reached for comment.

  • natoslug

    I realize this is somewhat out there, but we may have a problem with police violence against people of color.

    • phoenix00

      It’s like they #matter somehow someway?

  • The Librarian

    I understand that Mr. Smith was breaking the law. I understand that Mr. Smith thwarted the law. I understand Mr. Stockley was a police officer. What I also understand is that Mr. Stockley enjoyed himself some vigilante justice, even though he wore a badge. What I don’t understand is who people are supposed to call for assistance these days. Ghostbusters?

    • Antifa

    • BlissfulScribbler

      You’d have a better chance at safety if you called a known criminal.

      • javadavis

        Um… isn’t that the same thing as calling a cop? Getting away with it does not make their actions less criminal.

    • phoenix00

      The Make-Me-White Organization?

    • Mike Steele

      Once again, the Librarian affords us the Readers’ Digest version of the last 200+ years in one pithy, salient post. Issue sensitively and comprehensively addressed in a nutshell. Thanks for your service!

      • The Librarian

        It’s what I was born to do.
        :D

  • Peter Walford

    Good journalism, thank you. Extra-judicial execution of users of recreational drugs: as in Duterte’s Philippines. The war on drugs goes on forever. Good for business.

  • Vagenda and Pee-ara

    High speed chase endangering other people over a $10 bag of heroin? Firing shots wildly into a car when you have no clue who is in the car? Sure, seems reasonable to me.

  • Suttree

    I just can’t even do this any more. While I am very glad that y’all at Wonkette keep bringing these fucking travesties of justice to our minds…. I can’t really comment anymore on stuff luck this. My anger is too much. I should go post the same thing at the healthcare post because is is rather similar. Will full killing by government agent(s).

  • Me not sure
    • chimpevil

      Firesign Theatre automatically gets an upvote.

  • IdiotsforPalin

    Missouri, trying so hard to be Alabama…….GFY

    • Buzz1313

      Missouri seems a whole lot more terrifying. To quote Abe Simpson, ” I’ll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missorah!” I have no doubt there are some decent people there, but that state seems uniquely screwed up among states in the Midwest.

  • Bitter Scribe

    If I ever commit a serious crime, I’m going to ask for a bench trial. Apparently judges are more gullible than juries. Or does that only work for cops?

    • Ricky Gay

      What color are you?

      • Aslo, what color your intended victim, and what class bracket?

  • IdiotsforPalin
  • tegrat

    Unfortunately, the burden of proof is extremely difficult for first degree. That is why when prosecutors ask for it they are often actually trying to get a not-guilty verdict especially in cases like this one. Much better, IMO, and given the circumstances of this case, to go for a lesser degree, as painful and frustrating as that may be for us. Planting the evidence should also be a charge, but I’m sure his fellow officers backed him up on that one.

    • Shame they did not have a recording of the guy saying how he was going to kill his victim or anything…..
      Oh. Wait…

    • Mike Steele

      You’re right about this. Makes one wonder why DA didn’t go for a more sustainable charge.

      • Doctor Krieger

        Because even when they go for the lesser charge they still get away with it. See Rekia Boyd

  • chimpevil

    If Anthony Smith was a good ol’ (white) boy, they would have taken his heroin and let him go into the custody of his (white) parents. The scales of justice definitely are unbalanced if you got too much melanin in your skin tone.

  • OrG

    Actually, your fucking honor, the evidence DOES support the state’s contention that officer friendly planted the gun.

    • UncleTravelingMatt

      It really doesn’t. The State’s case was shit.

      • OrG

        Doesn’t only the cop’s DNA on the gun point directly at him?

        • UncleTravelingMatt

          No. It means the only testable DNA on the gun was the cop’s. Completely meaningless. Impermeable surfaces (like steel) don’t collect DNA. Hell, more often than not, permeable surfaces don’t collect testable DNA. If they did, DNA testing would be useless, because you’d never be able to exclude everyone who touched a particular thing.

          • ALP

            And an experienced police officer handler the gun without gloves because?

          • UncleTravelingMatt

            Because there is absolutely no reason to wear gloves. The supposed requirement is an invention of television. There is no procedural or evidentiary reason to do so. The idea that cops have to avoid getting their fingerprints on evidence has absolutely no application in real life.

          • guest

            Because there is absolutely no reason to wear gloves.
            BULLSHITE!
            The first thing police offices do when they go to a crime scene is put on gloves so they don’t contaminate evidence. He shot the guy 5 times so when he approached the car he knew either Smith was dead or so incapacitated that he wasn’t a threat. This entire thing stinks.

        • UncleTravelingMatt

          The State trumpeted that because they knew people (i.e. a jury) would think, “yeah, that’s a good point; I saw that on CSI Miami.” That’s not how DNA evidence works, though. That’s why the defense opted for a bench trial — to undo the State’s bullshit unscientific theories.

          • OrG

            Ok. But the cop’s still a dick.

          • UncleTravelingMatt

            You’ll get no argument from me.

          • themidniteskulker

            The prosecution said one of the bulls turned off the dashcam. Didn’t they? I believe they did. Isn’t that cognizance of guilt? I believe it is. ALLEGEDLY

          • UncleTravelingMatt

            “The prosecution said” is not evidence of anything. And no, they didn’t turn off the dashcam.

      • Buzz1313

        What about the part when the cop said ” Going to kill this motherfucker..” then proceeded to do just that? Hyperbole? I imagine, had the roles been reversed and the perp/victim was recorded stating he was going to kill the cop, that judge would have found his way to a guilty verdict.

        • UncleTravelingMatt

          What if the entire statement was, “if he pulls that gun, I’m going to kill this motherfucker”? You are making some huge leaps — that are not supported by the evidence — based on a fragment of an otherwise inaudible verbal exchange.

      • guest

        Only one set of DNA on the gun and it was the cops. What did Smith do, snap on latex gloves before he got in the car for that last ride?

    • LadyLaz

      Yeah the planting of evidence was weak.

      The whole deliberately walking into that situation intending to kill that man. Strong.

  • mailman27

    Our country’s original sin is so deep and twisted. WTF.

  • Buzz1313

    We’re getting one step closer to that day when a cop empties his gun into some white, upper class college guy and swears he was in fear of his life.

  • Amy!

    You know, when the color of someone’s skin is a sign that they are resisting the lawful and reasonable demands of police officers, it’s entirely possible that these truculent resistors may find it impossible to somehow make the required change in time to avoid a fusillade.

  • phoenix00

    Wait, we’re paying for kittens now? I thought we were buying non-comments and dick jokes.

  • HazooToo

    How much longer is this going to go on, and how do we actually DOOOOOOOOOOOO ANYTHINGGGGGGGG

    • Obama’s Justice Department did do somethings. Had Clinton won, her Justice Department woulda carried on doing those things and probably done some other things as well. But, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber won, and his Justice Department is undoing everything Obama did and then doubling down on state-sanctioned cop murder.

      • HazooToo

        So what can the people on the street do, except protest, record police interactions, and vote? Is that literally all we can do?

        • rhzszm

          You can pay for parking.

        • You can register others to vote, help people get legal ID to vote, get people to the polls to vote, volunteer for specific candidates, work for a political party, call your Congress people, get others to call, run for office, write opinion pieces for editorial news sites

          • HazooToo

            I’ll do most of those, then. Shit, I miss the days when not everything was about the President and Congress.

    • javadavis

      I suspect that this sort of behavior is why the French were roundly mocked and called cowards by the Bush (the lesser) admin shills.

      • HazooToo

        No, that was because they didn’t want to go to war with Iraq for imaginary reasons. Not the first time America insulted our first ever ally as an independent nation, and certainly not the last.

        • javadavis

          Oh, yeah. How long has the US been the bad guys now?

          • HazooToo

            For since we were British, I think?

          • javadavis

            Yeah, very depressing. Even the Vikings were perfect guests compared to the dirty European savage hordes. Ask the Brits of the time about Vikings and think about that. Or ask a modern norse-person, I suppose; it”ll get you a more personal and visceral reply, perhaps.

          • themidniteskulker

            Hey!! We’re the good guys, and don’t forget it!! That’s why we can do all kinds of shit – torture, kidnapping,invasions for oil, etc., – and it’s OK. The Russians do it, too, but they’re the bad guys, so fuck them. Actually, in my experience, any country that can, does, but some of them are our allies (or trump’s customers, or he owes them money or wants one of their women or something) so it’s OK. See?

  • These comments that are not allowed often help me sort out my thoughts and other kinks, and this story reminds me of just how much of a waste the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it.

    http://wp.me/p7vabV-4y8

  • 30 years on the bench eh? Well, if this is any indication, that’s 30 years of completely wrong on their goddamn face verdicts!

  • reelreeler

    yep :(

  • President in Exile Firefly

    Saaaaay, you know who else poured over evidence?

    • javadavis

      Maybe it wasn’t a typo.
      Did anyone else read this: “…and watched the videos “innumerable times. …” and instantly think ‘and fapped’?

      • H0mer0

        good non-comment but sad (not upvoting the ammosexuals; I didn’t get it until I recalled that Def Leppard song)

        • javadavis

          Oooh… you might mean it’s sad because it is probably true.

          • H0mer0

            [yes]
            :(

    • george lastrapes

      I want to know what he poured over the evidence. Beer? Maple syrup? BBQ sauce? Makes a difference.

  • motmelere

    This sets a wonderful precedent for St Louis serial killers.

  • rhzszm

    Don’t take the cash settlement offer if you want a criminal conviction.

    • guest

      Please explain why? That makes no sense.

      • rhzszm

        It makes perfect sense but it clashes with our sense of morality. An eye for an eye is the absolute limit of recompense, not the beginning. This is one reason why the world does not go blind, another of course being mercy.

  • “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”
    I will begrudgingly grant the judge that his claim seems reasonable, if you look past the dog-whistle of the word “urban” and about a thousand other things. That said, you know what I’m pretty sure *is* an anomaly? For the firearm allegedly belonging to said dealer to have none of that dealer’s DNA on it. Doubly so when the heroin did have his DNA. He was careful about one, but not the other? Really? Where is the judge even going with this? It was okay to kill this guy because of what he *might* do? I thought we believed in justice/punishment for what a person *has* done.

  • “urban heroin dealer” is a nice touch. Apparently, white suburban heroin dealers don’t carry guns.

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