Protests in St. Louis have turned violent after demonstrators hurled objects at police attempting to disperse the crowds.
At least nine officers were injured and 23 people have been arrested as a result of the chaotic clashes on the St. Louis streets.
Thousands of people started demonstrating Friday following a not guilty verdict in the 2011 case of Jason Stockley, a white police officer who shot and killed a black man.
Judge Timothy J. Wilson acquitted Stockley of a first-degree murder charge Friday afternoon, and groups of people took to the streets to protest against the verdict.
According to police, demonstrations started peaceful, but quickly turned violent after demonstrators hurled objects at officers.
Officers deployed teargas and pepper balls to drive away the unruly crowds throwing bricks and bottles at them, St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said at a press briefing alongside Mayor Mayor Lyda Krewson.
O’Toole said injuries suffered by officers include a possible broken job and dislocated shoulder.
“The St. Louis Police Department will continue to ensure that our citizens are able to execute their constitutional rights peacefully,” O’Toole said. “Our officers have been very tolerant and used great restraint. However, this evening we’ve had some incidents.”
Among those incidents was a group of people jumping on a St. Louis Police vehicle, smashing its windshield in the process.
Another incident occurred at the St. Louis Public Library, where protesters broke glass windows and doors.
During one gathering, about 1,000 protesters targeted the home of Krewson. They broke at least two windows and threw red paint on the home before police moved in with riot gear and teargas, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Here are some more photos and videos from the chaotic scene on the streets of St. Louis:
Stockley had been charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith. He and a partner said they saw Smith take part in a drug deal in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant on December 20, 2011. As the two officers approached Smith, he fled in his vehicle, nearly clipping Stockley and the other officer, photos from surveillance cameras show. Stockley fired at least one shot at Smith as he led them on a high-speed pursuit.
A police dashcam video shows Stockley saying he’s “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it” while in pursuit of Smith.
Smith’s vehicle eventually slowed, and the officers decided to crash into his vehicle with theirs. Immediately after, Stockley got out of his car and fired five shots at Smith, which killed him. Prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun that was found on Smith afterward. Subsequent testing found Stockley’s DNA on the firearm but not Smiths.
Wilson acquitted Stockley on Friday, saying in his ruling that the state failed to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley did not act in self-defense.”
“This court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant’s guilt,” Wilson wrote in his verdict. “Agonizingly, this court has poured over the evidence again and again. This court has viewed the video evidence from the restaurant’s surveillance camera, the cameras in the police vehicle, and the cell phone video by the lay witness, over and over again – innumerable times.”
Read the verdict in the court document below: