Heated protests have broken out in downtown St. Louis after a former police officer was acquitted in the 2011 fatal shooting of a black man.
Today, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found 36-year-old Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. On Dec. 20, 2011, the then-police officer, who is white, shot 24-year-old Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase and crash.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to protest the verdict, ABC St. Louis affiliate KDNL reported. The Metropolitan Police Department for the city of St. Louis wrote on Twitter this evening that the protests were “no longer considered peaceful” and instructed citizens to avoid the area.
A total of 13 people have been arrested thus far, police said, and four officers were assaulted, including one officer who was treated for a hand injury. Protesters have also shut down part of a highway.
Video from the protests showed demonstrators marching while chanting phrases including “no justice, no peace” and “if you kill our kids, we’ll kill your economy.”
Damone Smith, a 52-year-old electrician who was among the motorists re-routed away from the area, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he believed the verdict to be “disgusting.”
“I’m proud of these people protesting,” Smith, who is black, told the Post-Dispatch. “If you look like me, then you feel like there is no other way to express yourself in this kind of verdict. Time and time again, African-American men are killed by police, and nobody is held accountable.”
Some officers were wearing protective gear due to items being thrown at them, police said. Mace was deployed on the crowd after one officer was struck with a water bottle, police said.