St. Louis, MO – The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice have officially opened an investigation into the conduct of St. Louis police officers during protests after the acquittal of former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley in September.
Officer Stockley had been charged in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
After the verdict, protesters blocked highways, marched through downtown St. Louis for hours, and threw rocks at the mayor’s house. They also smashed the windshield of a police cruiser, and threw water bottles and other items at police officers.
Four police officers were injured, and 23 protesters were arrested during one night of the protests, which spanned several days.
Jeffrey B. Jensen, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, said the FBI and the DOJ would investigate “allegations of potential civil rights violations by law enforcement officers in the St. Louis area on Sept. 15, and in the weeks that followed.”
“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time,” Jensen said.
He did not say what specifically prompted the investigation.
Two calls for an investigation have occurred, one before U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry’s ruling last week that restricted police use of chemical agents and dispersal orders, and one afterward.
First Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, contacted Jensen late last month, and called for an investigation.
Then U.S. Representative William Lacy Clay, called for an investigation after last week’s ruling by Judge Perry.
Rep. Clay called St. Louis “the poster child for the need of federal intervention to address decades of bad police relations that reinforce the decline and erode the trust of police-community relations.”
Rep. Clay is the same congressman that repeatedly hung an anti-police painting in the U.S. Capitol until he was ordered to take it down.
Judge Perry ordered both the police and the ACLU to mediation at the preliminary hearing.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said she was pleased with the news about the U.S. Attorney’s investigation.
“Chief [Lawrence] O’Toole and I believe that an independent, third-party review makes sense,” Krewson said.