Large protests erupted Friday in St. Louis after a former police officer was cleared in the fatal shooting of a black man, leading to multiple confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement and more than a dozen arrests.
In a written statement, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner acknowledged the difficulty of winning police shooting cases but said prosecutors believe they "offered sufficient evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt" that Stockley meant to kill Smith. Judge Timothy Wilson found that prosecutor had not demonstrated "beyond reasonable doubt" that police officer had not acted in self-defence.
After most protestors drifted away, a smaller group of policemen, described as "agitators" by resident, lingered on in the streets of the upscale neighbourhood near the mayor's home.
"Orders to disperse were given numerous times". According to ABC News, 32 people were arrested in the protests and 10 officers were injured.
A decision is expected on Friday in the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer charged with fatally shooting a black man in 2011 after a auto chase, and state officials fear a violent reaction if the officer is found not guilty.
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The 36-year-old was arrested in May 2016 and accused of planting a gun in Smith's vehicle, but he said he had acted in self-defence.
"I would say that all in all today's protests were very peaceful and the police exercised great restraint", stated O'Toole, adding, "That is a good outcome for a very tense day". Some protesters held "Black Lives Matter" signs.
In some cases, mace, tear gas and pepper balls were used to disburse crowds, including at a St. Louis public library and several locations around downtown St. Louis. Stockley was accused of planting a gun at the scene of the crime in order to claim self-defense.
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