Former police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of the first-degree murder of Anthony Lamar Smith on Friday. Shortly after the verdict was announced, the streets of St. Louis were taken over by protesters demanding justice for yet another black life taken by blatant police brutality.
The protesters flooding the streets of St. Louis are rightfully angry.
They are fed up with a system that goes by the name of “justice” yet makes a habit of allowing police officers like Stockley to murder civilians and not be prosecuted.
This disappointing verdict laughs in the face of a slew of evidence suggesting foul play on Stockley’s part and shows that the American justice system has not been listening to the cries of the people.
Court proceedings indicate the evidence piling high against Stockley was almost too perfect to not warrant a conviction, the most disturbing evidence being his alleged comments.
Just minutes before killing Smith, Stockley was recorded in his dashboard camera saying to his partner what sounds like, “We’re killing this motherf—–, don’t you know?”
Although Stockley claims he does not remember making these comments, he nevertheless justified them by saying, “during a vehicle pursuit, many things are said.”
Prosecutors also cast doubts on Stockley’s innocence by arguing that Stockley planted the gun in Smith’s car. This claim is partially founded on the fact that the only DNA found on the gun belonged to Stockley.
That’s right: not a trace of Smith’s own DNA was found on the gun that was supposedly his.
Further strengthening the prosecution’s allegation is that, shortly after the shooting, Stockley is recorded on the dashboard camera digging through and removing something from bags in his police vehicle before returning to Smith’s car.
Additionally, Elijah Simpson, a fellow police officer who reported to the scene minutes after the shooting, testified that he did not find a firearm in Smith’s car when he examined it.
Yet the court dismissed all this compelling evidence. Somehow, it was not enough to prove his guilt. The justice system, yet again, turned its back on the millions of people screaming on Smith’s behalf.
Their screams will not be silenced, however. The St. Louis protesters will continue to beg for their voices to be heard. They will continue to walk the streets hoping that someday the U.S. will understand that police brutality is a rampant epidemic for which officers need to be held accountable — hoping that someday the U.S. will learn that Black Lives Matter.
The lives of officers certainly matter, but not any more than the lives of the people they should be protecting.
The persisting trend of police brutality plaguing the country has yet to be recognized as an issue by some government officials. Officers need to be held accountable when they end lives. Stockley should be behind bars.
Allaa Tayeb is a sophomore majoring in English and film studies.