Officer acquitted in St. Louis suspect’s death files suit
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A white former St. Louis police officer whose acquittal in the death of a black suspect set off weeks of protests filed suit Wednesday against the prosecutor who charged him and a police investigator.
Jason Stockley’s lawsuit alleges defamation and malicious prosecution. The lawsuit names former Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and police Lt. Kirk Deeken. It seeks at least $75,000 in damages.
A police spokeswoman declined comment. A message seeking comment from a spokeswoman for Joyce was not immediately returned.
Stockley was charged in 2016 with first-degree murder in the shooting death of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith. Joyce’s office filed the charge. She did not seek re-election and the case was prosecuted under Kim Gardner, who was elected in November 2016. Gardner is not named in the suit.
A judge in September found Stockley not guilty, setting off sometimes violent protests over several weeks that led to hundreds of arrests.
“Essentially, Joyce, Deeken and the Circuit Attorney’s Office are responsible for inciting riots,” the lawsuit said.
Stockley and his partner spotted Smith, 24, acting suspiciously at a fast food parking lot in 2011. When they tried to question Smith, he drove off, nearly striking the officers. After a chase, Stockley fatally shot Smith.
Stockley testified that the shooting was in self-defense because Smith was reaching toward a gun in his car. Prosecutors accused Stockley of planting the gun.
Stockley, in the lawsuit, said some evidence was misrepresented, and other evidence that could have benefited his case was disregarded. His lawsuit said Joyce felt pressured to file charges due to a rash of other officer-involved shootings of black suspects. He also accused Joyce of lying to a judge when she claimed there was new evidence that led to charges nearly five years after Smith’s death.
The suit accused Deeken, an internal affairs investigator, of making false claims to grand jurors.