The following statement can be attributed to Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director, ACLU of Missouri:
Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal today does not change the facts: Anthony Lamar Smith died unnecessarily, another casualty of excessive and deadly force by police against people of color.
We extend our sympathies to Mr. Smith’s family and loved ones. This region—and our country as a whole—have seen too many deaths caused by police, with little accountability for the officers or department involved.
Michael Brown. Philando Castile. Terence Crutcher. Alton Sterling. Tamir Rice.
We must say their names and those of the many others killed by police in recent years. In 2016, Black males between 15 and 34 years old were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers. It is past time for Missouri and the country to say in one voice: “This cannot continue.”
While many police officers act respectfully toward those they serve, we must acknowledge how regularly communities of color experience racial profiling and abuse from local law enforcement, including here in the St. Louis region. This is a longstanding and tragic trend that began well before the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 and has continued since.
The ACLU stands with those who will continue to fight for racial justice.
We hope this verdict is a wake-up call that the community and the police must come together now to build trust and ensure justice. Each and every community member must have an equal say in the way their neighborhood is policed. To move forward, police and the people they serve must collaborate, be transparent, and communicate around the shared goals of equality, fairness, and public safety.