St. Louis braces for third day of protests after officer’s acquittal

By Brandie Piper, Sam Clancy, and John Bacon

ST. LOUIS — Shop owners and residents were cleaning up broken glass, assessing damage and bracing for more protests Sunday after two nights of violence sparked by the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man.

St. Louis County police said they arrested nine people Saturday night and early Sunday in suburban University City, home to Washington University, one day after protests that turned violent led to 33 arrests in two St. Louis neighborhoods.

A protest was planned for Sunday afternoon at the police headquarters downtown.

The University City Police Department said 23 businesses and five police vehicles were damaged Saturday night when protesters hurled rocks, bricks, water bottles filled with paint thinner or gasoline and balloons filled with red liquid.

“UCity PD requested assistance Saturday after peaceful protest turned violent when debris was thrown at officers,” county police tweeted early Sunday.

St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said the protests have been peaceful until after dark, when chaos has ensued.

“Saturday night, some criminals decided to pick up rocks and break windows,” Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said in a statement. “They thought they’d get away with it. They were wrong. Our officers caught ‘em, cuffed ‘em, and threw ‘em in jail.”

The protests began Friday after a judge cleared former St. Louis Metropolitan police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, during a high-speed car chase. Judge Timothy Wilson ruled Stockley acted in self-defense.

The decision prompted demonstrations Friday that left 11 police officers injured. Authorities made 33 arrests that night.

On Saturday, demonstrators marched through a shopping mall chanting “Black lives matter!” and “No justice, no peace!” At about 9 p.m., organizers announced to the crowd that the protest was a success, citing zero arrests. The crowd dispersed shortly thereafter.

About an hour later, a smaller, separate crowd gathered. A police line formed once the tension between demonstrators and police grew. One person reportedly threw red paint on the shield held by a University City police officer.

A short time later, the St. Louis County and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Departments were called in to assist the University City police, according to a statement released by county police.

As protesters and police clashed, a windows in the nearby Starbucks was broken. Several other businesses and cars were also vandalized as police moved in on the crowd. Trash can lids were thrown through storefront windows.

Friday’s protests also were mostly peaceful until demonstrators spattered red paint on St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home and broke a window, prompting riot police to lob tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Nine St. Louis officers, one State Highway Patrol trooper and one St. Louis County officer were hurt Friday night, according to the city police department. One city officer was hit with a brick. O’Toole said the injuries to St. Louis police officers include a possible broken jaw and a dislocated shoulder.

During Stockley’s trial, prosecutors said he had planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting — Stockley’s DNA was on the weapon but Smith’s wasn’t.

Dashcam video from Stockley’s police car captured him saying he was “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.” Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.

Stockley’s lawyer dismissed the comment as “human emotions” uttered during a dangerous pursuit.

Wary of the protests that broke out in 2014 in nearby Ferguson, Mo., over the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer, authorities took precautions in St. Louis. Barricades were erected around police headquarters and the courthouse, among other sites, in anticipation of the verdict.

Clancy and Piper report for KSDK-TV in St. Louis; Bacon for USA TODAY in McLean, Va. Contributing: Associated Press


Published Sept. 17, 2017 on A version of this story also appeared on page 3A of the 9.18.17 edition of the newspaper.

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