Let's begin yesterday, as word began to get out that the Judge was about to file his verdict (bench trial, as the white police officer waived a right to a jury in St. Louis City) in the Stockley case.
If you don't know the Stockley case, here it is in a nutshell: a white police officer shot and killed a black suspect in a drug arrest following an attempted arrest, the suspect crashing his car into the police car, a high speed pursuit on wet roads, and a confrontation at the window of the suspect's car afterwords. Stockley says his partner saw a gun at the original stop, and yelled that warning. And that the suspect reached over toward the passenger seat as Stockley ordered him to show his hands; he thought he was reaching for his weapon and fired, killing the suspect in self-defense. The prosecution argued that Stockley formed the intent to kill while chasing the suspect, as he uttered a phrase like "we're killing this guy" (profanity removed) during the chase, and that further he planted the gun in the suspect's car afterword.
The case happened in 2011, and neither the city prosecutor nor the federal Justice Department filed any charges. Fast forward to 2016, and the City decides to file first degree murder charges. Stockley's partner was given immunity, but was not called to testify. The Judge issued a 30-page verdict yesterday. I read every word of it. Essentially, the State didn't meet its burden of proof, common to every case of murder, of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley did not act in self-defense and further that the force used in self-defense was not reasonable.
That's it. As a lawyer, it looks like a slam dunk to me. Why? Though there was evidence presented to support a theory of premeditated homicide, there was at least reasonable doubt and more that it was justified self-defense. Maybe a good Law and Order episode, if there is such a thing. It all comes down to the burden of proof based on the available evidence. In a civil trial, where the burden is preponderance of the evidence, there could be a reasonable debate about a verdict. Not here.
So, in a society based on law, where convictions aren't politically directed, this case, while tragic, is not a controversial one. The verdict comes down, people have an opinion, most lament a world where this can happen, and go about their lives.
In a post-civilizational, pre-anarchical society, there has to be a political game to be played. I think it took enormous integrity for the Judge to issue this verdict, after having been politically pressured to sacrifice the defendant on the altar of racial pandering--regardless of whether he got it right or not. It would have been so easy just to find him guilty and slink back into obscurity. That's real courage.
Now, on to Lyda, or as one commenter to this youtube video called her, Mayor Paintsmock. Here is her statement before the verdict. Remember, this woman won by 800 votes in the Democratic primary (what is known in St. Louis City as "the general election") against four serious African American opponents. She barely got a 30% plurality, and has been pandering ineffectively ever since:
Then, after the verdict, she issued this execrable piece of statement:
Enjoy the ride, Lyda. And all of us.