Hundreds protest in St. Louis after officer is acquitted in shooting death

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Hundreds of protesters are marching through the streets of St. Louis after a white police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of a black man.
 
A judge announced Friday that Officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. 
 
Stockley shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase. Prosecutors alleged Stockley planted a gun in Smith's car after he shot him.
 
One man was arrested during the protests for damaging a police vehicle. The suspect's name has not been released.
 
A smaller group of protestors stood in front of a city bus filled with officers in riot gear, blocking it from moving forward. The bus backed up and protesters again tried to stop it, with a few throwing water bottles. The bus moved less than a block before police in riot gear began pushing back the crowd.  
 
Several businesses and schools in or near downtown St. Louis closed early after the judge's verdict. Several schools also closed early and postponed events scheduled for Friday. 
 
The head of the NAACP St. Louis is asking President Donald Trump and the U.S. Justice Department to immediately review the acquittal of a white St. Louis police officer in the shooting death of a black man.
 
St. Louis Public Radio reports that in a letter sent Friday, St. Louis NAACP president Adolphus Pruitt said the Justice Department needed to give immediate attention to the case "to get to the truth of what happened and to ensure that justice has been served."
 
Pruitt says the community has lost faith in local authorities to fairly handle such cases. He cited the remarks from Albert Watkins, the attorney for Smith's fiancee. Watkins said ruling was "appallingly contrary" to evidence in the case. 
 
The attorney for the family of the black man shot and killed by a white St. Louis police officer says they disagree with a judge's ruling that the state didn't meet its burden of proof for a finding that the officer was guilty of murder.
 
KMOV reports that attorney Al Watkins spoke to reporters less than an hour after the judge's ruling, saying he found the ruling appalling and contrary to the evidence presented.
 
Watkins and Smith's fiance, Christina Wilson, on Thursday appealed for calm and non-violent protests.
 
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens acknowledged the verdict causes pain for many people but asked those who choose to protest the verdict to do so peacefully. 
 
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says she hopes city residents will come together despite their differences over the acquittal. 
 
U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri says he's outraged by the judge's verdict. Clay is a Democrat who represents the St. Louis area. He said in a statement Friday that former officer Jason Stockley violated several police department regulations and showed a "total disregard" for Anthony Lamar Smith. He says justice has been "cruelly denied" for Smith, his family and the community.
 
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri both issued statements Friday expressing hope that people will come together to avoid the divisions that occurred after a white police officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014. 
 
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