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Protesters Take to the Streets in St. Louis in Response to Officer Jason Stockley Being Found Not Guilty of the Murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired September 15, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Here's the breaking news, protests in St. Louis after an officer is found not guilty in the shooting death of a black man. You're looking at live pictures now, this is CNN tonight I'm Don Lemon thanks for joining us. Protesters taking to the streets of St. Louis even burning American flags hours after judge found a former police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of first degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of a 24-year- old black man Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley shot and killed after a police chase over a suspected drug deal.
Officer said he acted in self-defense and believed Smith was reaching for a gun in his car. The shooting was captured on police dash cam as well as an internal vehicle camera and a cellphone video. I must warn you it is graphic.
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LEMON: Protesters, Prosecutors accused the officer of planting a silver resolver to justify the shooting. Stockley's DNA was found on the gun, Smith's was not. CNN Ryan Young live for us tonight in St. Louis, Ryan, I want to get right to the scene with you. What's the latest there, describe what you're seeing.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, things are getting tense right now. Most of the day it's been very peaceful but right now you see the officers walking down telling everyone to move back. We were on scene just 20 minutes ago when someone threw a rock into a window of a house nearby they were screaming for the person to come out, breaking the windows as we were filming. You hear the officer's now giving can the command move back, move back. We've been marching about four miles this evening all the way from the hospital through the business district and now this residential area, you see the officers right here, who have been taunted the entire evening they've allowed protesters to march wherever they wanted to march because it was peaceful only a few times have we seen flare ups this is one of the times we seen officers decide to spread into this area and tell everyone to move back.
I want to tell you something else. Talked about the American flag being burned. When the American flag was being burned a man inside a restaurant was trying to confront protesters, that is when we thought this things are going to boil over, cooler heads prevailed, people said that is not what we're here for. They continued the march. We continued to this neighborhood everything was peaceful. People were coming out from homes and going along with the protest but then someone broke that window. As you step forward you can see the officers now creating that links, they are linking together, we know the national guard has been activated and is on standby just in case. This has all gone down in the last five minutes or so. When the tension started to rise, we also watched another young man being pepper sprayed. People are carrying magnesium to get it out of his eyes. This is the most tense emotions that we've felt all night.
LEMON: And you ask see, as you said, what you call the failing of officer and I am looking at them. How much police presence and how many protesters are on the scene?
YOUNG: We saw the crowd swell to about 500 in about an hour ago. This is a residential neighborhood, no one was confronting them. We had no back and forth between residents or anyone else. It's remained peaceful. They found a house at the end of the street here and went to the yard and banging on the door and started calling for someone to come sought. We believe it's a city official, but we have not confirmed it yet, but then we watched him break the windows and within ten minutes from that moment, we saw officers swarmed the area, no lights and sirens, just popped up out of nowhere. And all of a sudden they're saying move back. You hear the officers moving.
This is happening live right now. You see people are starting to throw things at the officers, mostly they are throwing water bottles. That is what they've been doing most of the evening when they start moving this way. I am going to walk up the hill here so I can get out of the officer's way. They've been dealing with being taunted, yelled at, cussed out most of the evening, but they've not responded outside of using maybe the pepper spray every now and then. We've seen a couple arrests, we know twelve arrests were made, four officers were assaulted according to the police, but outside of that we haven't seen any other things happening. You hear the officer now telling us to move.
[23:05:00] LEMON: You can confirm that is the mayor's house that those windows are broken on, Ryan. And just give our viewers just an idea where you are. Are you in forest park near the central west end near Washington University? Where exactly are you in the city?
YOUNG: So what we did we were on (inaudible) a little early, near the business district and a lost the shops were not even interfering with the protesters. People were actually providing water as they walk through. It was a very peaceful protest. This is a very diverse mixture of people but things changed in the last half hour we seen the crowd definitely change. Here we go people start running again. We've seen this several times tonight we're going to move out of the way. People screaming gas, gas, you see the officers putting their gas masks on. You can see they're getting ready to deploy the gas we have to avoid being choked out by that gas. We've been so close to the pepper spray few times we've had to cover our faces guys our shirts that is just part of the situation that is going on here. When you are throwing water bottles at police officer who's have pepper spray you know they will respond. For the most part we haven't seen them confronting the protesters it's more allowing them to walk through the neighborhoods now after breaking the window, breaking the law that is when you saw the officer's step in.
LEMON: All right Ryan Young I want you to stand by, also I want you to be safe. We'll get back to you if the situation warrants it. I need to get to Dan Simon also in the crowd tonight in St. Louis. Dan where are you and what's happening, Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Don it's extremely intense situation. I'm about 50 yards away from police in full riot gear. We just saw the crowd just run down the street. This is normally a quiet residential street but tonight looks like a military zone. I was actually in front of the mayor's house which is about two blocks away from here when those windows got shattered. We saw a group pick up very large flagstones in front of the yard that are used for landscaping and they just smashed them into a bunch of different rocks. People picked them up and started smashing the windows and then police came and obviously you see the situation now it was very peaceful earlier. People of all ages marching along. Chanting various slogans. Everything seemed to be fine and now the groups have splintered off a bit. Police have rushed in here and we're waiting to see what happened. This is obviously the most tense we've seen tonight.
LEMON: Dan Simon and Ryan Young both out in the crowd of protesters, initially it was a peaceful protest but now starting to look otherwise. We're going to continue on to follow this part of the story. Now we want to discuss why folks are out there. Former officer Jason Stockley speaking out tonight saying it feels like a burden has been lifted but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts. The taking of someone's life is the most significant thing one can do and is not done lightly. Going on to say I can feel for and understand what the family is going through. And I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I'm just not the guy. I want to turn now to Anthony Gray attorney for the mother of Anthony Lamar Smith. Anthony thank you so much for joining us this evening. You see there's a tense situation going on in St. Louis you're reaction to today's verdict.
ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR THE MOTHER OF ANTHONY LAMAR SMITH: Very tense. Well, we were shocked. Absolutely surprised. I sat there in that trial, Don, every day. Watched it from gavel to gavel. Saw Jason Stockley testify, his testimony was so inconsistent with the cell phone video. It was a situation where we were forced to believe what Jason Stockley had to say and suspend our own hearing what we saw on that cellphone video. In my opinion I think he should have been found guilty of first degree murder based on the evidence.
LEMON: What do you make up of his reactions tonight? He is speaking out to the St. Louis protesters and I read part of it. GRAY: I think it was a self-serving statement from someone who said
he was going to kill someone and 45 seconds later he actually did. That is premeditated murder. I can't stressed enough Don, how was caught on tape, it is totally inconsistent with his version of events, one lie after another lie, after another, but the court chose to believe him. But as you see with the demonstration many chose not to believe him.
LEMON: Listen we met during the whole Ferguson arrest, what do you say to the protesters out there, who have many of them have not been peaceful tonight or some of them, I should say.
[23:10:10] GRAY: Well those that are not being peaceful need to understand they will be held accountable. The system has a way of making sure that individuals involved in these kind of protests are held accountable so they need to be careful and govern themselves accordingly. Keep that in mind. That is my message to everyone.
LEMON: This happened in 2011 I'm sure this brings it back for the mother. How's Anthony's mother doing tonight?
GRAY: She is doing as best she can under the circumstances. I don't know how you, like you said, kind of digest this in any other way but through sorrow and grief but under the circumstances she still has a good spirit about herself. She hasn't resorted to do anything out of the norm for her. She is containing herself. To the extent she could manage to get through the day she is been doing pretty good with that.
LEMON: You were in the courtroom every day as you mention, and you say this moment proves the case for you and we're watching it now. Explain that, what this moment, explain that, and this is all the tape of the incident.
GRAY: Yes because those of us that saw it, Don, saw the tape that is a cellphone video and listened to the testimony and you know, are forced to believe that Anthony Lamar Smith, DNA not been on his weapon after Jason Stockley testified to the way Lamar Smith handled his gun, how he had it in his hand the whole time and how he apparently stuffed in between the center counsel and the seat all of this handling of the weapon and no DNA I think is dispositive of the person who owned that weapon and put it there. His DNA has been compelling evidence against everybody except for Jason Stockley.
LEMON: I need to stand you by, hold on, I need to get back to Dan Simon live in the crowd, Dan what do you have for us?
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SIMON: Well we see police just deployed what appears to be tear gas, you see the cloud in the distance and all these people running away from the gas. You see the police in full riot gear coming down the street trying to push this crowd back. We're going to move along a little bit so we don't get some of this gas. But what a situation, Don. It quickly spiraled out of control, right after those rocks went through the mayor's house. That is when police decided they had to act. For most of the evening they contempt a hands off approach but once the vandalism started police had to come in and try to get this crowd under control. Now everybody is kind of dispersing. The organized protest is now effectively over and now people are just sort of watching the scene unfold. As you see police come down the street. You see all of these busses here, these busses were used to transport police, we're going to continue walking down, but obviously a lot of tension, and we saw protesters burning American flags tonight.
Now we're just walking down the sidewalk. You see some of this protesters have masks on and that is really what you have to watch out for. When they wear the masks from experience we know they're up to no good. You see more gas has just been deployed. We're going to keep walking, Don. We're continuing to go down the street. Excuse me. We do have security with us so you know, trying to keep ourselves in a safe position away from the chaos as much as we can be. You hear the police helicopters above monitoring the situation. Now we're just going down the sidewalk. I am getting a little bit of that gas now.
LEMON: Dan, I want you to stand by. I want to get back to Ryan young also live in the crowd in St. Louis take us through what you're seeing.
YOUNG: Yeah, Don, we're on the opposite side and the officers are now moving in our direction. They deployed the gas on the other side. People on this side are taunting the police officers trying to get them to come at them. We've seen this all night. Throwing things at them, yelling at them.
[23:15:02] For the most part the officers have stood back most of the evening and allowed protesters to protest. Once again this has been almost in three phases -- here we go. They just deployed some of the gas and everyone's starting to run there Don. One of the things we've noticed here is we had some protesters who are doing it the way you think people should protest and others who were here to antagonized the police officers, they are screaming at them as we speak. You see the gas that is being deployed right now. You know how the wind shifts it will shift in our direction and disperse most of the crowd. We haven't seen much of property damage but it's obviously got to the point now where the officers want these people out of this neighborhood.
There's been a lot of control this evening on both sides but now you can see when the windows got broken down, we knew this would happen in terms of a heavy response, once the helicopter above with flares are lighting up the crowd, there were some in the neighborhood who were part of the protesters who wanted to do more what was going on between them and police officers. That is the first time we heard that. Now you're at the point the officer deployed a little bit of gas with few people in front of them. That is part of the conversation. The other time we had a flare was earlier this afternoon when police were moving the bus in. That is the larger flash they are now deploying to send everyone running. Oh, it just hit somebody right there. Somebody was hit with one of those devices. Now that gas is coming this direction. We're going to walk a little bit faster to get away from this.
Clearly the police officer are deploying things I got a young man throwing rocks to my right at the police officers, he tried to throw that rock and I'm not sure it even got close to the police officer but you understand what's going on this has dissolved into a little bit of craziness. As we move down the street they've deployed gas and they are pushing people to a west ward position. If you listen you can hear the bangs in the back ground and we believe that is police deploying more gas. In fact there's gas behind us and now in front of us so we'll figure out how to get around it. Notice though the crowd some people are hanging around. Some are still taunting the police officers. For the most part the larger bulk of the crowd has gone home. One thing concerning is there's a lot of kids here at this protest. In fact just in the last five minutes I saw a seven-year-old standing in the corner, he was helping to lead the protest and now he is near all of this that is going on. You would hope that his parent would get him home at this point, because he is so young.
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LEMON: Ryan Young on the streets of St. Louis for us this evening. Back now to Anthony Gray the attorney for the mother of Anthony Lamar Smith, the man who was shot by officer Stockley. Does the family have a message tonight for these protesters?
GRAY: You know Miss Annie Smith gave that message earlier, a message of accountability. She also wanted everyone to remain safe. She put out a message ever peace and calm as well. So that is been her message from the very beginning. There was a full expectation, Don, that you would have a public reaction in the fashion that we're witnessing right now. It was expected. I think the police should have been prepared for it, it sounds like they are prepared for it, given the amount of weapons and artillery being deployed at this moment but Annie Smith's message has always been clear, to remain calm, don't make one un-justice to another un-justice through civil unrest that is been her message.
LEMON: I want to talk about his ruling, St. Louis circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said finally the court observes based on its 30 years on the bench that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly, what's your reaction to that.
GRAY: Earlier I refused to give an on air reaction but after talking to Miss Smith today, she urged me to say something about that. First of all I don't think it was ever established that Mr. Smith was a heroin dealer. There was, as I understand, heroin found in the vehicle but that doesn't make you a dealer. The second part of that is that the possession of this weapon, it wasn't on him, it was allegedly in a car stuffed in between the seats that Jason Stockley just so happened to recover that only has his DNA. Based on the Judge's statement you would think it would be on Anthony Lamar Smith himself and it wasn't. A lot of people were offended by it. They took it as an insult and an indictment against anyone in possession of drugs. What it also does which is more dangerous to me, gives officers a perception anyone with heroin will potentially have a weapon on them and need to guard themselves in a way that may not be necessary and may cause more situations like this based on his 30 years of experience.
[23:20:25] LEMON: I know you want those protesters out there to remain peaceful but you also say you understand that the community is being asked to believe someone's words instead of trusting their own eyes. What do you think the lasting implications of this verdict will be on the police in the community and the relations there in St. Louis? A community that is already scarred.
GRAY: I think it will deepen the scar and make the divide even wider. We don't close any gap with the outcome of today's decision, Don, I think the gap's become wider. We get more distrust. We get more antagonism between the community and the police. I don't know what the answer is, but that is clearly what the results are at least at this point. You can see it with the protesting.
LEMON: How do you respond to those who say this played out in court of law and people must respect the outcome opposed to protesting on the streets.
GRAY: I agree that you have to respect the process and the outcome, but that don't mean I have to believe what it was in terms whether or not it was right or wrong. What people are saying is okay that is the outcome. Obviously we have to live with it. Jason Stockley is not going to jail for murdering Anthony Lamar Smith, but that doesn't mean I have to do what's right. What I'm commenting on is individuals feel like expressing it was wrong. This is not the way this outcome should have been and I want to show you how I feel about it. That is where civil unrest comes from.
LEMON: Anthony Gray thank you. We appreciate your time.
GRAY: No problem Don, have a great day.
LEMON: You as well. Thank you so much. I want to go back now - let go out to the streets of St. Louis right now and you can see the protesters are still out there and Dan Simon is there as well. Dan, what are you seeing?
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SIMON: Well, hey, Don got a little tense there for a moment when police unloaded the tear gas. You can see police behind me in full riot gear trying to get the crowd to go home. You know, when we had this verdict today there was immediate concerns and flash backs to Ferguson, Missouri, short distance away from St. Louis and the question was will we see St. Louis erupt tonight and police doing their best to try to keep things under control. We'll see how the night unfolds, but I will tell you that concern definitely exists. That is why the Missouri governor activated the National Guard. They are effectively on standby should things get out of control. We saw a number of businesses in downtown St. Louis board of their windows in anticipation that we might see some vandalism. We saw a little of that. Of course we saw people break windows at the mayor's house and ironically the mayor came out today strongly and condemned the sentence. One might argue that she is on the side of these protesters, because she felt an injustice had been done.
Perhaps word had not gotten to these protesters that she had said that. So they went to her house tonight and broke some windows did some vandalism. That is when police came in and effectively broke up the crowd. Now you see it splintered a bit. We're at the intersection of King's highway and Waterman Boulevard, if you happen to note the St. Louis area, this is a quiet residential area, there are some businesses nearby, there's a hospital nearby as well. For several hours tonight, as you heard Ryan Young say, they were marching peacefully. People of all ages. A lot of college students. Seniors as well. And now as the night wears on, I can tell you that you're seeing more of a young crowd, more of those people with masks on trying to hide their identities from police those quite honestly experience tells us those are the people you have to worry about, because they're trying to keep their identities hidden and on times they have dark clothing and backpacks those are the people you want to keep an eye on.
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[23:25:07] LEMON: Those are the people that are not necessarily representative to everyone in the crowd and the people who are uninformed even though the mayor spoke out against the verdict they don't know. I know exactly where you are. Lived there a long time near forest park. Hospitals on one side. Washington University on the other side. An interstate. And then a neighborhood. Thank you. We'll get back to you, Dan Simon reporting to us live from St. Louis. I need to give you a note here. We invited the folks who represented this officer Jason Stockley to come on, they agreed to come on, but could not come on tonight because they're dealing with the situation there, also they represent the officers and are dealing with the officers in the middle of this chaos so not for any other reason they can't join us because they are busy and we hope to get them on as soon as we can. When we come back much more on the protest happening in St. Louis right now. And people out in force against a Judge's not guilty verdict for former office who are shot and killed a young black man.
LEMON: Our breaking news, protesters out on the treat in St. Louis tonight, increasingly tense situation after Judge acquitted police officer, a first degree murder of a shooting death of a black man. CNN's Ryan Young is on the streets of St. Louis, what are you seeing?
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YOUNG: Definitely tense. I want to show you this line, because as we stand here, just about where that truck is if we walk closer you will feel the effects of the gas, it got in our lungs and we split down this side. Dan Simons is actually on the other side.
One of the other things we also noticed was someone dropped this out of their bag. This is what people are using on their eyes and face to get that gas out. That is one of the things you can hear someone behind us, we've had protesters talking towards police, the fact they were told they were going to be dispersed and kept running. Now at this point you see just a little bit of the protesters are left behind. Few people decided to stay around. But that links goes all the way back to where the mayor lives.
All day long there's been a real conversation about justice in this area. Let us not forget Don, we were nearby Ferguson few years back when people were upset and some of those wounds haven't healed and people talking about that, how did this case go from 2011 to 2017 before there was a decision. You heard over and over again there's no police accountability. But on the other side of that we saw police officers acting with a real professionalism watching protesters antagonize them even when they deployed the gas, they didn't overdo it, they did just enough to move the crowd back and get them out of here. There was no pushing and shoving tonight. They did two gas canisters on this side and when people were throwing rocks they deployed a little bit more.
So there was restraint from the officers when it was getting tense because it could have gone downhill quickly, watching the mayor's windows getting busted out was amazing I was shocked, because at that point there was no one screaming or angry always it was just chanting and someone just started throwing things in the windows, surprised all of us. Same with when the American flag got burned, there was no talk of anything always someone started burning the flag. We did see people arrive later on in the evening who had masks on who weren't part of the original protesters, not sure where they came from, but obviously there were some intentions from some people coming in. We did noticed someone carrying an ar-15, ak-47 and several nine millimeters within the crowd. Of course this is an open-carry state, you are allowed to carry a gun, but it was disconcerting to see those heavy weapons in the crowd.
LEMON: Looks like it is starting to dissipate. This is not Ferguson what we're seeing this evening.
YOUNG: No, not at all. Look at these people, they are out of their house to see what's going on. It's returned to normal pretty quickly. Got to give the officers credit for setting the perimeter and moving people in a certain direction. That is the direction they moved them in. They deployed the gas to let it stream down the street and when people got more aggressive with the officers, throwing on to at them that is when we saw couple of the canisters being thrown over our heads and we could see the gas coming from all different directions. When that thing grabs your lungs you want to get out of there and we high-tailed up the street for a little while as people started running. Obviously you could feel the grip on our nervous systems as the gas was getting all over the place. For the most part things have been pretty quiet after that.
LEMON: All right stand by. We're going to get to Dan Simon also in the crowd on the other side of where Ryan is. What are you seeing Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, Don, we've seen people throw water bottles at police and now they're trying to push the crowd towards this park that is just in front of us. There's a synagogue to the side as well. Number of people watching inside the synagogue. Some people trying to take refuge inside the doors there. Obviously it is a tense situation right now. Ryan was talking about the fact this is an open-carry state and I'll have to tell you that raises the temperature a little bit when you see people walking around with handguns at their side, carrying assault rifles, that gives you pause when you are walking down a quiet residential street in St. Louis and see that, especially with police in the back ground.
You can see police just doing their best to try to disperse the crowd to push them back. You see several protesters, people with cameras, police coming up a little bit, going to back up a little bit, now they got the tear gas out again and they're spraying it. Trying to push that crowd back. They're trying to get everybody to leave this area. There they go across the street. We can see the protesters going back to another residential area.
[23:35:10] It appears the strategy here is to get the crowd to disperse. It seems it has been effective because we don't see quite as many protesters out here at the moment. Police now just standing guard and pushing the crowd. That is all they are trying to do. Give you more context in terms of what we saw in front of the mayor's house, we did see some people try to intervene and prevent some folks from smashing the windows. I saw a senior citizen yell at one of these young kid who was smashing windows, telling him to stop, but once the crowd joined in there was no stopping it. It was a really sad scene. That is what caused this massive police presence to descend on these streets, Don.
LEMON: All right Dan, stand by. Want you to be safe out there. Police using tactics to get the protesters on what's left of the protesters off the street. Bringing in now Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officer Association, CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara and Neill Franklin a retired Maryland state police major, first to Jeff, want to talk about what's happening in the crowd. This will be handled no doubt differently than Ferguson, St. Louis police chief former military, very highly respected police commissioner and knows how to deal with this situation better than most.
JEFF ROORDA, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICER ASSOCIATION: Well the unfortunate reality is we're the best in the country at this now after Ferguson and the shooting we had in St. Louis shortly after that and now this. Nobody has more experience at this. And you know, I'll put my guys up against anybody, they're complete professionals, well- trained, and they know how to handle these situations.
LEMON: This situation happened, Jeff, back in 2011 before the Michael Brown and Darren Wilson shooting in Ferguson, explain how the first degree murder charges came to be in May 2016.
ROORDA: Let's recognize this for what it is, a purely political prosecution. In 2011 the police and FBI investigated the shooting, it was looked at by the local prosecutor, local U.S. Attorney and even sent up to the civil rights division at main justice. They all said there's no crime here. Then five years later the prosecutor says we have new evidence in this case, we're charging this officer. What you found by watching the courtroom, I was in the courtroom too with Anthony Gray who was on the show earlier they not only didn't have new evidence didn't have any old evidence. They did nothing to prove their cases. Matter of fact their own witnesses hurt everything they were trying to prove.
LEMON: Uh-huh. Mark I want to bring you in. You say it's impossible to convict anyone who kills a black guy. In your opinion what did officer Stockley do wrong?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Actually I think there's a number of things he did wrong. First of all the idea he said what he said on tape about going to kill somebody is just poor training and you might want to give it away as being just an emotional moment but quite honestly that type of statement is really troubling to me. Now what else did he do wrong? I think that Neil would agree, Mr. Border would agree, if you're the shooter, if you are the officer who did the shooting, he shouldn't be the one gathering the evidence. I'm very concerned that he was the one who went into the car after the body was removed and quite frankly it was troubling as well the back and forth with the SUV. So he did that wrong. We can look at this as a learning lesson as well for law enforcement. I'd like to hear Mr. Border's respond. That is in a situation like this I'm not sure why the officers felt it was necessary at that point to approach the car rather than wait for some type of back up to do whatever they could have done to deescalate the situation. Because if in fact those officers actually believed there was a gun in that car, why approach it the way they did almost demanding the need for a deadly force response. So there were a number of issues there that I think were done improperly.
LEMON: What do you think about this, Neil, even though officer Stockley said, quote, we're killing this in effort before him and his partner's vehicle crashed into Smith the Judge said quote people say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment or in stressful situations? The difference is Stockley did kill Anthony Smith and as a former police officer do you think the Judge has a fair point?
[23:40:00] NEILL FRANKLIN, RETIRED MARYLAND STATE POLICE MAJOR: Whether or not it's a fair point or not I'm not sure. But as a police officer, we get involved in these stressful situations time and time again. Especially in a city like St. Louis and Baltimore and others. There has to come a point you learn how to deal with your emotions in a high-speed pursuit and what would be stressful for someone else and an average citizen, you have to get to that point, you have to work at that, it's part of the profession and to get to the point you're going to make a statement like that during a high-speed pursuit, it's definitely unprofessional. Do we as people say things that we regret and should not have said during stressful situations, yes we do, but that particular statement is extremely problematic.
Does it get us to a point where we're able to use that statement to prove the intent to kill someone to satisfy a first degree murder charge? That is a whole other story. Obviously there's enough there for an indictment but to get a conviction along with the other evidence that should or was or was not there that is another story. And I read what the Judge said regarding his decision and he does make some points there, just has to be beyond a reasonable doubt.
I think that is the hurdle that needs to be made. And this, a lot of police officers today that have been indicted for similar charges, the trend is to request a bench trial, not a jury trial. Because they know a Judge is going to do the very best they can to stay within the boundaries of that law from a technical aspect and that they will do the best they can to keep the emotions out of it unlike a jury. I think you will see this going forward you will see the indictments but not the convictions even when there's a lot of evidence.
LEMON: All right thank you gentlemen. I appreciate it. We are going to continue to follow the story, we are looking at live pictures now. You see what's left of protesters there on the streets making their way through residential neighborhood at one point breaking a window, police trying to disperse those protesters and push them back. We continue to follow this live coverage right after this break.
[23:45:44] LEMON: We're back with breaking news, protesters on the streets of St. Louis tonight situation increasingly tense after a Judge acquitted police officer of first degree murder in the shooting death of a black man. CNN Dan Simon is live out in the crowd, Dan, what's going on now?
SIMON: Hey, Don, there's still quite a heavy police presence out here, but I can tell you the crowd has definitely thinned out. Don't see too many protesters out here at the moment. I don't know where they may have gone. We see the police helicopter above us perhaps tracking them. They effectively pushed the crowd out of this residential area and now there's just a few folks watching this scene unfold. There's been a lot of tension tonight, Don, as you have seen. Police have used tear gas, pepper spray to push the crowds back. The methods seem to have been successful, because a lot of people have left. I can't tell you that they've gone home though. My guess is they have pushed out into other areas of town and police are obviously going to be keeping tabs, close tabs on where everybody has gone. You can see these police, these officers over here surrounding one of their vehicles. I don't know really what they're doing at the moment, Don. But obviously this is going to be a very long night and police had prepared for this. They knew this verdict was coming down. They had a plan in place. Officers are working twelve-hour shifts. A lot of officers had to cancel their vacation or personal days off, because they knew this was coming down.
The National Guard also on standby, if in fact it becomes an even more chaotic situation, Don, the National Guard could essentially rush in. We know that a lot of businesses have also been thinking about this. We saw some board up their windows today anticipating that there could be some bad vandalism. Far as what we've seen, at the mayor's house several dozen surrounded her house, picked up some big landscaping stones, smashed them to pieces and bunch of kids picked up these large rocks and threw them at the windows.
Then right after that, I would say that was the turning point for the night. That is when police really rushed in and decided they would take proactive measures to get this protest to be over. It was highly organized protest all throughout the night. People peacefully Marching down the street, holding signs, at one point tried to shut down a freeway but police prevented them, then police let them wander throughout St. Louis tonight didn't do anything but certainly as the hours have gone on they decided they needed to be a lot more aggressive, Don.
LEMON: And the bulk of this, you talked about the mayor's house happening at the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour, the situation has changed drastically on the ground. Again you said they have dispersed the protesters from what you can see. You're not exactly sure where they're headed.
SIMON: Exactly. I can just tell you that this one slice of the neighborhood where we are, I'm not seeing too many protesters. But you still have this heavy police presence out here. Why? I can't tell you exactly. Perhaps they're just trying to keep them from going further down this street. Or perhaps they have some Intel that they're marching towards this area. I can't tell you for certain, Don. Still dozens of officers lining this particular street.
[23:50:05] LEMON: It's also a very nice residential section of St. Louis and also hospitals, again, lining -- I'm not sure where you are. I think you said you're on Kings Highway, near Kings Highway. I'm sure they just want to protect the residents of that neighborhood. Dan, I want you to stand by. I want to bring in now Neill Franklin, retire Maryland State Police Major, Bakari Sellers, of course Political commentator and then Marco O'Mara and this is from the St. Louis, Missouri police saying officers being transported to hospital from injuries sustained from brick thrown at him at Kings Highway. Let's discuss this, Neil. We're not seeing as many protesters out. It looks like the tactics of officers have worked, of this police department now. You heard what Dan said. He doesn't know where they're going, but this is all strategized.
FRANKLIN: Yeah, it is, and unfortunately, I think it was said earlier that here we are again and we're really learning from this. Don, we were in Baltimore together for that riot. We were also on air together during Dallas when we had the problems in Dallas. And because of these scenarios that we're going to continue to see with protesters, we the police are getting, unfortunately, better at this because we have to. In this particular case right now in St. Louis, as we get later into the hours, that is when you really have to worry, even though the crowd seems to be dispersing, you have the folks on with masks. The people who are typically the peaceful protesters have probably dispersed or about to disperse and go home. So what's left? It's the ones who have the ill intent, who are wearing the masks, who you have to worry about destroying property. The police are becoming very good at taking the abuse and unfortunately that is our job and that is what we're supposed to do. But when you start breaking property, when you start committing crimes, when you start destroying other peoples' property and possibly hurting other people. That is when the police are really going to show some force and start moving people in particular directions to break it up.
LEMON: Bakari, let's talk about this case. The protesters who are out there, the family members and the supporters of the young man who was killed relying heavily on the fact that his DNA was not on the gun, only the officer's DNA was on the gun. What the Judge said, saying he would be an anomaly that a heroin dealer would not have a gun. What do you make of those circumstances?
BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, it was the second time that I've heard someone on your show tonight applaud the St. Louis police department for being good at handling riots and they're becoming so much better at their job when is it comes to handling these situations of protesters in the streets. My advice to that police department and many others is to stop killing black people and you won't have instances like this. What we saw was a miscarriage of justice. What we saw was a tragedy. And I think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. actually said it best. You can condemn the riots, but you also have to condemn the underlying conditions that led to them. I know Mark is on the show with us tonight and we can go tit for tat about what the Judge said and what he didn't say. But what we do know is that the only DNA that was found was found from the officer.
What we do know is that he had a weapon that was not an official weapon of the St. Louis police department. And what we do know is that he said I am going to kill this m-fer and then when he got to him, he killed him. And so I've been on this show many times before when we've had instances like this, and I really wish this police department as good as they're getting at handling riots would get even better at giving African-American men the benefit of their humanity and then we won't have to be so good at handling riots.
LEMON: Mark O'Mara?
O'MARA: Yeah, I'm not certain that Bakari and I sort of agree on this one. I've got some real concerns. It's interesting because the DNA that was found was his DNA because he touched the weapon momentarily, literally for a few seconds, it seems, and left DNA on it, yet there was nothing on there from Smith. That to me if there was one piece of evidence that is most troubling, it is the fact that the owner supposedly the owner of the weapon, Mr. Smith, his DNA was never on that weapon. That is not only unusual, it's literally unheard of. We who deal with DNA on a daily basis in the criminal justice system know that all of us leave it everywhere. So it's very troubling. Now, here is what really happened, I think, in the Judge's mind when he looked at this case. I think he had to make the primary decision of whether or not he believed the officer planted that gun.
[23:55:01] If the officer planted the gun, guilty of first degree murder without question. If he did not plant the gun, then it's very difficult to find him guilty of almost anything. So we then look at the evidence to decide whether or not there was enough evidence to see whether or not that gun was planted. The lack of DNA evidence to me is overwhelming as far as the question of whether or not that gun was actually in the car.
The fact that he went in the car is troubling to me. The fact that he went back and forth from the SUV was troubling to me. The Judge did make a finding of sorts saying when he came out of the SUV, I didn't see anything in his hands. And again, I'm not trying to re-indict the officer. I believe in the criminal justice system. I believe the Judge made a decision and now we have to live by it. But having said that, if I wanted to plant a gun, I would not walk out of my SUV with it in my hand. So we have to look closer. Another example of what we need to do now, and I've said this, Don, to you probably, unfortunately, dozens of times, every cop in America needs to have a body cam on their person. Not necessarily because I don't trust them, but because it will make everyone's job a lot easier to see what actually happened. Because we would know a lot better what happened if Stockley was wearing a body camera. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the way he acted in this. He never should have gone in the car. He never should have collected evidence. He never should have gone near the SUV and never be a cop who says something like I'm going to kill that m-fer.
LEMON: All right, gentlemen. Thank you. I want you to stand by. We're going to be right back with more on the situation live in St. Louis.