Charged with murder, former St. Louis cop heads to trial
Posted July 27
St. Louis, MO — For the first time in nearly two decades, a law enforcement officer in St. Louis is facing a murder charge for shooting and killing a man while on duty. The trial against Jason Stockley starts Monday.
Stockley is accused of killing Anthony Lamar Smith back in 2011. It's what can be seen in videos, and what can't be, that will likely drive testimony in the case against the former city officer. There is dramatic police dash camera video capturing first a chase and then the fatal shooting. There is also cell phone video from an observer of the aftermath.
Both together with DNA evidence, witness statements and the officer's own words could all be in play in the controversial case.
"I knew it was murder from the beginning," said Christina Wilson back in 2016.
Wilson, the fiancé of Anthony Lamar Smith and mother of his child, has waited a long time for this. She spoke with News 4 last year but is forbidden now by a court order from saying anything public, as are all witnesses set to testify.
"He was someone's dad, someone's lover, someone's soul mate. I don't think you get over that," said Al Watkins.
Watkins, Wilson's attorney, can talk, though, he tried a civil case on the matter for Wilson and won a settlement and is hoping to re-open the issue. He's long believed Stockley is guilty.
"He intended to kill someone. He made that, in my opinion, crystal clear in the audio and the video," Watkins said.
Now, prosecutors will try to prove it. The dash camera video starts at a local fast food place, Stockley is seen with his personal AK-47, which is against department policy to have. He's also seen taking shots at Smith's car with his duty weapon.
Then, there's a chase, a momentary crash, and the chase is back on. Prosecutors say Stockley can be heard saying he was going to "kill this [expletive]."
The cruiser can be seen slamming into Smith's car. Stockley, on the right of the video, fired the shots. Then, inside the car, he retrieved something from his bag, but his body blocks the camera.
Prosecutors say a gun was recovered from inside Smith's car but they found only Stockley's DNA on it. In his statements, Stockley said he did touch the gun, but only to render it safe.
In their interviews, both the officers say that when they approached, they saw the driver reaching for something in the car's center console. Both say they feared for their safety.
"There is a lot of water going under this bridge in pretty short order," Watkins said, who added he thinks it will be hard to reconcile the officers' statements with the video.
But only a judge will have to grapple with all the evidence. This week, a judge allowed Stockley to waive his rights to a jury trial.
"The outcome, we will have to wait and see, that's what justice is about," Watkins said.
News 4 obtained a copy of the list of witnesses the defense plans to call in the case. Many of them are police officers and some are civilians who claimed to see the shooting.
The defense has also asked for an expert to testify to give an opinion on the psycho-physiological reactions during and after high-stress encounters.
The big question will be whether Jason Stockley will take the stand.
Calls to the defense team were not returned. The Circuit Attorney's Office told us they could not discuss the case, per the court's order.