The problem isn't the jury here. It's a bench trial. The judge in the proceedings is expected to hand down a verdict any time now. GOP Gov. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, author, and Rhodes scholar, is still calling up the National Guard, just in case.
The entire city is on edge because we know what's going to happen.
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.
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 echoed Wilson’s sentiments, saying he understood that many people feel pain over the shooting. “Do not turn that pain into violence,” he said. “One life has been lost in this case, and we do not need more bloodshed.”
Earlier Thursday, Greitens — who won office last year in part on a promise not to repeat mistakes he says officials made in responding to the racial unrest in Ferguson in 2014 — announced he is readying the Missouri National Guard to protect both protesters and property.
“As Governor, I am committed to protecting everyone’s constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people’s lives, homes, and communities,” Greitens said in a statement. “Taking the steps to put the Missouri National Guard on standby is a necessary precaution.”
On Thursday, barricades went up around the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse downtown, and St. Louis and St. Louis County police prepared to move officers to 12-hour shifts Friday. The federal courthouse will be closed on Friday.
“We want to ensure the community that our police department is prepared for any scenario,” the city police department said in a statement. “In the wake of an announcement, the department is committed to keeping our citizens updated and informed.”
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.
There has been no official word on the timing of the announcement of a verdict, but multiple sources have told the Post-Dispatch it will come down Friday.
We know what happens next.
BREAKING: Judge acquits white ex-St. Louis police officer of first-degree murder in 2011 shooting death of black man.— AP Central U.S. (@APCentralRegion) September 15, 2017
Black Lives Still Matter. .