St. Louis — A white former police officer was acquitted Friday in the 2011 death of a black man who was fatally shot following a high-speed chase, and hundreds of demonstrators streamed into the streets of downtown St. Louis and later an upscale neighborhood to protest the verdict that had stirred fears of civil unrest for weeks.
Ahead of the acquittal, activists had threatened civil disobedience if Jason Stockley were not convicted, including possible efforts to shut down highways. Barricades went up last month around police headquarters, the courthouse where the trial was held and other potential protest sites. Protesters were marching within hours of the decision.
More than a dozen arrests were made, and several officers were hurt as the day went on.
The case played out not far from the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, which was the scene of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old who was killed by a white police officer in 2014. That officer was never charged and eventually resigned.
Stockley, who was charged with first-degree murder, insisted he saw 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith holding a gun and felt he was in imminent danger. Prosecutors said the officer planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting.
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