Tensions ran high in St. Louis Friday, with barricades surrounding a federal courthouse and the Missouri National Guard on standby, as the city awaited a verdict in the murder trial of a white cop who shot a 24-year-old black motorist in 2011, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch—and that verdict just came in as an acquittal. The officer, Jason Stockley, had maintained he shot at Anthony Lamar Smith five times because he thought Smith was reaching for a gun, but prosecutors argued Stockley planted the gun in Smith's Buick after it crashed. The decision by Judge Timothy Wilson was announced by a circuit attorney press release, per the Riverfront Times, after previous remarks by activists there would be "mass disruption" if Stockley was acquitted. "It's going to look a lot like Ferguson. It's going to be … three hundred-plus days of direct action," the Post-Dispatch previously quoted an activist as saying if Stockley wasn't convicted.
The Chicago Tribune looks back at the case, which started when Stockley and his partner witnessed what looked like a drug transaction on Dec. 20, 2011, in a fast-food restaurant parking lot. Smith, one of the parties present, drove away as the officers neared, and the shooting took place after the cops rammed their SUV into Smith's vehicle. "Of course, I'm disappointed with the court's decision," Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in the release, adding: "I remain committed to holding people accountable for violating the law, regardless of their race, gender, occupation, or station in life." St. Louis-area police will be working 12-hour shifts Friday, while Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens prepped the state National Guard Friday as a "necessary precaution," he said in a statement, per the Post-Dispatch. Smith's fiancee joined Greitens at a Thursday presser, noting: "However it goes, I ask for peace."