St. Louis Braces for Verdict in Police Shooting Trial

Judge Timothy Wilson is expected to announce his verdict on Friday. Wilson presided over a bench trial that ended Aug. 9 concerning the controversial 2011 police shooting of a black motorist by a white officer.

With courthouse barricades up, police presence expanded and National Guard troops on standby, St. Louis is braced for Friday’s anticipated verdict in the murder trial of a white police officer accused of executing a black motorist, reports the Post-Dispatch. Former St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley maintains the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith was in self-defense. If he is acquitted of a first-degree murder charge, officials fear the inevitable protests could turn violent. Some activists have hinted as much. Christina Wilson, Smith’s fiancée, appeared at a news conference with Gov. Eric Greitens Thursday evening to ask protesters to avoid violence if they demonstrate. “However it goes, I ask for peace,” Wilson said.

Greitens has called on the Missouri National Guard to protect both protesters and property. Barricades went up Thursday around the U.S. Courthouse downtown, which was ordered closed on Friday, and police were being moved to 12-hour shifts Friday. Stockley fatally shot Smith after a police chase on Dec. 20, 2011. Prosecutors have alleged Stockley planted a .38-caliber revolver in Smith’s crashed Buick after shooting him five times at close range. The defense has said Stockley shot Smith in self-defense because Stockley believed Smith was reaching for a gun. The bench trial before St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ended Aug. 9. Some St. Louis black clergy and activists have pledged “mass disruption” if Stockley is acquitted. The verdict is widely expected to be announced on Friday.