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Jason Stockley sues over prosecution for murder

Protesters sit at the intersection of Maryland and Euclid for a moment of silence on Friday night.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Protesters sit at the intersection of Maryland and Euclid during a 2017 protest after former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder. Stockley sued in federal court Wednesday for malicious prosecution and defamation.

Updated 8:50 p.m. Wednesday with a copy of the lawsuit — A former St. Louis police officer acquitted of murder last year for an on-duty shooting has sued the prosecutor and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for even bringing the case in the first place.

Jason Stockley, who is white, shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old black man, after a car chase in 2011. He was charged with murder in 2016, after then-circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce said she had new evidence.

The federal lawsuit filed Wednesday said that claim was one of several lies told by Joyce and and Kurt Deeken, who was the head of internal affairs. The charges, the suit said, were an effort by Joyce to protect her legacy with activists protesting police brutality. The arguments used to charge Stockley, it said, contradicted arguments Joyce had used to not charge officers in other high-profile cases.

“The making of each and every false statement, as set out in this Complaint, under oath, is a Class C felony,” Stockley’s attorney wrote. “Conspiracy to commit perjury is a Class D felony. Knowingly filing a false pleading with the Court is unethical and punishable by disbarment. Attempting to convict Stockley of murder and subject him to the rest of his life in isolated confinement, without parole, by lying to a judge is contemptible.”

The suit also blames Joyce and Deeken for the protests and violence that followed his acquittal.

"I believe these types of frivolous lawsuits are designed to discourage prosecutors from considering charges against police officers for violating the law," Joyce said in a statement in response to the suit. "While this lawsuit may achieve a goal of headlines today, I have confidence that this will be resolved in my favor in a court of law."

Stockley is seeking at least $300,000 in damages for malicious prosecution and defamation. It is not clear how far his suit against Joyce will get, as prosecutors are entitled to broad immunity. In fact, on the same day Stockley filed his case, a federal appeals panelrejected a lawsuit against former U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof for his actions as a special prosecutor on a 1990 murder in Livingston County. A judge had thrown out the conviction in that case because of prosecutorial misconduct.

A spokesman for the city said its attorney was reviewing the lawsuit and that it would be inappropriate to comment.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.