Jason Stockley shot Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011 after a car chase. Stockley had his personal AK-47 on his car seat and said he'd 'kill this mothrf**ker' during the chase.
The cop whose acquittal on Friday over the 2011 shooting of a black man has led to massive protests in St Louis says he has nothing to apologize for.
Jason Stockley, now 36, shot Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, on December 20, 2011 after a drug deal bust spiraled into a car chase.
Despite concerns over Stockley taking his personal AK-47 on duty that night and remarking that he was 'going to kill this motherf**ker' during the chase, he was found not guilty of first-degree murder on Friday, leading to an outcry.
But he told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that their anger is misplaced, and said he was speaking out 'Because I did nothing wrong. If you’re telling the truth and you’ve been wrongly accused, you should shout it from a mountaintop.'
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Jason Stockley (left), now 36, says he did nothing wrong in shooting dead Anthony Lamar Smith (right), 24, on December 20, 2011 after a drug deal bust spiraled into a car chase
Stockley (seen in shooting footage left) was acquitted by Judge Timothy Wilson (right) on Friday, leading to an outcry. Stockley had been accused of planting a gun after the shooting
Because I did nothing wrong. If you’re telling the truth and you’ve been wrongly accused, you should shout it from a mountaintop.
Stockley's claim that he would 'kill' Smith during the pursuit - which was captured by his car's dashcam footage - had seemed to many like incriminating evidence.
But in Friday's ruling, St Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said that because the other remarks made before and after that comment were inaudible, it lacked context.
Stockley himself told the Post-Dispatch that he didn't recall making the remark.
As for carrying an AK-47 - modified with a pistol grip and drum magazine - and 100 rounds of ammunition in his car, Stockley is unrepentant.
He says he started packing the powerful 'pistol' after the streets became too dangerous, and said that while he may have broken the rules, he didn't do anything wrong.
'I used it as a deterrent, and I believed it was better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,' he said.
'I accept full responsibility for violating the rules. But it's not a moral crime. It's a rule violation.'
Stockley denied planting the gun and Wilson agreed there was no evidence. The cop also came in for harsh criticism after it emerged he'd taken an AK-47 (pictured right) on duty
Stockley says the gun (pictured) was breaking the rules but not morally wrong. He also says he doesn't recall saying he'd 'kill this motherf**ker' despite dashcam footage of that remark
He also denies the claim made by prosecutors that his swift entry into Smith's car was to plant the weapon that would justify killing the young man.
Wilson said there was no evidence the gun had been planted, and that it was reasonable for Stockley to think Smith might fire on him.
Stockley said he already knew what the gun looked like and wanted to make sure Smith hadn't thrown it out of the window, and that the only thing he would do differently is 'take the day off.'
'I don’t know how changing any number of my actions that day would have changed the outcome,' he said.
He does acknowledge that the video doesn't put the killing in an entirely favorable light, but says that's common to every piece of dashcam video.
'Every resisting [arrest] looks bad, it never looks good,' he said. 'But you have to separate the optics from the facts.'
Those optics have led to two nights of protests in St Louis - protests that led to 32 people being arrested on Friday and 300 people shutting down a mall on Saturday.
Some 32 people were arrested on Friday (pictured) in protests at the acquittal. Wilson said the dashcam comment wasn't fair because the dialogue around it was inaudible
On Saturday a second protest saw 300 people taking over a mall (pictured). Stockley says he did nothing wrong in shooting Smith and that he doesn't deserve blame
Stockley - who had served a tour in Iraq before becoming a cop five years before the shooting, and is now working for an oil company in Houston - says anger against him from Smith's family, friends and supporters is misplaced.
'I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I'm just not the guy,' he said.
He added that 'My main concern now is for the first responders, the people just trying to go to work and the protesters. I don't want anyone to be hurt in any way over this.'
On Friday at least 10 police were hurt, including one who had his jaw broken.
For Stockley, the shooting has had a profound effect on his day-to-day living.
'My life has been in turmoil for some time,' he said. 'I've been in a holding pattern. I haven't been able to be with my family. … I'm trying my best not to let this dictate my life.'
And while his six-year court case is finally done, he says he's still not free.
'It feels like a burden has been lifted, but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts,' he said.
'The taking of someone's life is the most significant thing one can do, and it's not done lightly.'
He added: 'The decision to use force could be the most important decision you'll ever make because it could be your last. And regardless of what happens, nobody wins.'