Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to civic leaders and clergy at Washington Metropolitan AME Zion Church ahead of a verdict in the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in St. Louis. Stockley is accused in the 2011 killing of a black man following a high-speed chase, prompting clergy to warn of possible unrest if he is acquitted. Former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley’s trial ended last month, but Judge Timothy Wilson has yet to rule. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
I love my city, but I’m well aware of her flaws. Seems like most national press we receive these days is negative. (Why do you think we sing the Cardinals’ praises so loudly?!)
Unfortunately, we may be in for more of it:
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens took preliminary steps Thursday to activate the Missouri National Guard in anticipation of potential violence with the verdict expected soon in the first-degree murder case of former St. Louis patrolman Jason Stockley.
Stockley, who is white, fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, who is black, 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, and a verdict is expected soon. Some St. Louis black clergy and activists who have pledged “mass disruption” if Stockley is acquitted.
Many have questioned why the verdict is taking so long to issue. Fair question. One would hope it’s because the Judge is taking his time to carefully review all of the evidence presented and render a fair and impartial ruling, regardless of external pressures. Tim Wilson, who is retiring at the end of the year, can be a bit quirky but is a smart guy with years of experience (both on the bench and as a former Assistant US Attorney). He’s not exactly known for quick decisions and — understandably — this one will be no exception.
I’m agnostic on this case — I haven’t studied it closely and won’t pretend to have special insight into what really happened. If the evidence supports an acquittal, then so be it. If the response here is protests and riots, I guess we’re in for a bumpy ride for a bit. (As she checks her calendar to see when she’s next due in court….) And if the evidence supports a guilty verdict, then that’s the one Wilson should issue. Given the rumblings we’ve been hearing in the past few weeks, though, one has to wonder if some of the would-be protestors won’t be a might disappointed.