“It feels like a burden has been lifted, but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts,” former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who was acquitted Friday or murder, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The taking of someone’s life is the most significant thing one can do, and it’s not done lightly. … My main concern now is for the first responders, the people just trying to go to work and the protesters. I don’t want anyone to be hurt in any way over this.” Stockley, 36, who lives in Houston, was charged last year with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, in 2011.
The chase began after Stockley and his partner, Brian Bianchi, tried to arrest Smith for a suspected drug deal. After St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson filed his ruling Friday, Protests soon erupted in downtown St. Louis. “I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I’m just not the guy,” Stockley said. He said he understood that the video of the shooting looked bad to investigators and the public. “Every resisting [arrest] looks bad, it never looks good,” Stockley said. “But you have to separate the optics from the facts.” The judge focused on the 15 seconds between the time Stockley left his police car and then unholstered his weapon and fired at Smith as proof that he did not execute him. Tears welled in the former police officer’s eyes when asked why he had agreed to be interviewed. “Because I did nothing wrong. If you’re telling the truth and you’ve been wrongly accused, you should shout it from a mountaintop.”