September 20, 2017

Changes After Stockley Acquittal

City of St. Louis, Kim Gardner, policing

by Kim Gardner, Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis

I am disappointed with the court’s finding in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. As the Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis, I remain committed to holding people accountable for violating the law, regardless of their race, gender, occupation, or station in life. My job is to ensure a fair and transparent process and to vigorously present the evidence in the best manner possible, and my team did exactly that.  

While officer-involved shooting cases are extremely difficult to prevail in court, I believe we offered sufficient evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley intended to kill Mr. Smith. However, in this case it was the judge’s duty to evaluate the evidence and deliver his findings. That’s how our system works.

In light of the verdict, it is time to take a harder look at how officer-involved shootings are addressed in our city. I understand and appreciate the many challenges that face our city’s police officers. It is very noble work. However, we need further examination and clarity in the laws that govern the use of deadly force by police officers.

I believe we must first change the way these cases are investigated. Police cannot continue to investigate themselves.

I am calling for an independent investigative body that works under the supervision of the Circuit Attorney that is solely dedicated to investigating the 25 officer-involved shooting cases that are under review by my office so the community has confidence that they are being handled fairly and objectively.

We are in trying times. I understand that some people are frustrated and angry. I am frustrated as well. There are things we can do.

We have the opportunity to show the world that, in the City of St. Louis, we can show our frustration in a strong yet peaceful manner. We can share what’s on our minds without destroying the very city we all want to make a better place. Destruction of our community is not the answer. Rather, we need to build alliance to reform the shortcomings of the current approach.

I am asking the community to use their energy and voice and join me in working with state and local lawmakers to establish better ways to seek justice in officer-involved shooting cases. I am asking for the community’s support in helping me secure the resources needed to quickly and objectively investigate these cases.

Criminal Justice