Protests resume in St Louis after ex-officer acquitted of murder

Protesters took to the streets of St Louis again yesterday for a sixth day of demonstrations against a judge's acquittal of a white former police officer who fatally shot a black suspect.

About 100 people gathered in Shaw Park in the suburb of Clayton, Missouri, before a larger group met up near the St Louis Galleria in nearby Richmond Heights, where they blocked traffic.

Demonstrators marched and chanted near the upscale shopping mall and briefly moved towards an interstate on-ramp, but police blocked the entrance and pushed the protesters back.

"No justice, no profits," the marchers chanted. "Whose streets? Our streets!"

St Louis County police soon announced the demonstration had become an unlawful assembly and ordered protesters to leave an area near the mall, saying anyone who didn't go could be arrested.

Protest organisers urged the demonstrators to leave and most complied.

The latest action followed several days of protests and unrest in the Missouri city that has been rocked since Friday, when a judge announced he found Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Many of the protests have been peaceful, but there was vandalism over the weekend resulting in more than 100 arrests.

Hundreds of riot police were mobilised on Sunday, arresting more than 120 people and seizing weapons amid reports of property damage and vandalism.

The arrests came after demonstrators ignored orders to disperse, police said.

As they marched back to the city centre, they knocked over planters, broke windows at a few shops and hotels, and scattered plastic chairs at an outdoor venue.

According to police, the demonstrators then sprayed bottles with an unknown substance on officers. One officer suffered a leg injury and was taken to a hospital.

Mr Stockley shot Mr Smith after a high-speed chase as officers tried to arrest him and his partner in a suspected drug deal.

During the trial, Mr Stockley, 36, testified he felt endangered because he saw Mr Smith holding a silver revolver when he backed his car toward the officers and sped away.

Prosecutors said Mr Stockley planted a gun in Mr Smith's car after the shooting.

The officer's DNA was on the weapon but Mr Smith's wasn't. Dashcam video from Mr Stockley's car recorded him saying he was "going to kill this (expletive)."

Less than a minute later, he shot Mr Smith five times.

Mr Stockley's lawyer dismissed the comment as "human emotions" during a dangerous pursuit. St Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson, who said prosecutors didn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Stockley murdered Mr Smith, said the statement could be ambiguous.

Stockley left the police department and moved to Houston three years ago.

- AP


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