Former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty Friday in a murder trial stemming from the shooting of a man while on duty.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson’s verdict found Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the December 2011 shooting death of a drug suspect after a high-speed pursuit and crash.

Activists, with support from some of the city’s black clergy, had pledged disruptive protests ahead of St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson’s verdict, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Wilson addressed such statements in his order: “A judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.”

Stockley, 36, was charged last year with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Dec. 20, 2011, shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, at the end of a vehicle pursuit.

Prosecutors said Stockley carried out the premeditated murder of Smith by shooting him five times at close range and then planting a .38-caliber revolver in Smith’s Buick after police pulled Smith’s body from the car. Defense attorneys said Stockley acted “reasonably” in self-defense in killing a drug suspect he believed was reaching for a hidden handgun.

In 2013, the city paid Smith’s survivors a $900,000 settlement stemming from a civil suit.

 

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