Notes from around the Human Experience…
THIS WHOLE COLUMN IS GOING TO BE DRY, TECHNICAL MATTER ISN’T IT?: Former St Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action last week, charged after he shot Anthony Lamar Smith, a suspected drug dealer, to death in 2011.
Leading Off: Dry, Technical Matter: St Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson delivered the verdict because Stockley waived his right to a jury trial. Stockley did well to do this. Officers charged with deaths in both Cleveland and Baltimore were acquitted in bench trials and judges are notorious for being able to block out the emotions that prevent objectivity that juries sometimes are unable or unwilling to block.
And You Wonder Why You Don’t Get Invited To More Parties: We read Judge Wilson’s decision. Regardless of your opinion on the verdict – and please, read the decision before you form one – Judge Wilson did his work thoughtfully and diligently. The People of the Great State of Missouri were served well.
Thank You, Oliver Wendell Holmes: We’re not lawyers here at The Daily Dose – thank God – but we’re not complete idiots, either. One thing we found ourselves wondering was why did prosecutors try to hang Murder One on Stockley?
Please Pass The Dry, Technical Matter: Proving first-degree murder is difficult. It involves intent, premeditation and malice aforethought. Missouri specifies murder in the first-degree as:
…intentional killing following deliberation.
Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Jury: Considering this, you don’t have to be John Jay to know it would be difficult to convict a cop who killed someone he first encountered a few minutes earlier of first-degree murder.
Honestly, after reading the decision, we don’t think the State could’ve gotten a conviction on even a manslaughter charge because Judge Wilson found the State:
…failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (the) defendant’s use of deadly force was not justified in self-defense.
Brilliant Job Straddling The Fence, Gaylon: Blacks have a lot to protest in this country. Football players aren’t kneeling for the national anthem and St Louis residents aren’t protesting this verdict because the black experience in America is the end of the rainbow. But we found it difficult to impeach Judge Wilson’s verdict.
Meanwhile, Back In The Hood: So, of course, the problem of white cops shooting black suspects continues, as it would even if the verdict against Stockley had been guilty.
This shooting could have been prevented. One, if the sale and possession of drugs were not a crime, this never happens because Anthony Smith would merely have been a vendor looking to move some product and not a suspect in a criminal investigation. If Stockley and his partner had decided this wasn’t the Crime of the Century and had ignored it, this wouldn’t have happened, either. Removing Smith as a supplier merely gave another dealer more customers. It did nothing to stem the use of drugs in St Louis.
The Bottom Line: America has a violent society because America has a violent government. Had America been at peace every day since 1989 instead of at war, gunfire would not be our most common form of social interaction.
Editor’s Note: We encourage you to read the verdict for yourself. The Daily Dose is not in the habit of providing links, however, we offer one today. Click here to read the entire decision.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE!: The Constitution of the United States is signed during the last session of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on this date in 1787.
Not everyone was completely enamored of the finished product, which some regarded as nothing more than a collection of makeshift compromises, but the Constitution would be ratified the following year and the new government of the United States would begin on March 4, 1789. The Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation and though sometimes ignored, is still the governing document of the United States.
Those Zany Californians: Joshua Norton, a broke, crazy boarding house resident in San Francisco, proclaims himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States on this date in 1859. He would later add Protector of Mexico to his title and in 1862 Emperor Norton mandated both Catholic and Protestant churches ordain him as Emperor, a mandate that was ignored.
Norton was born in London and grew up in South Africa before arriving in San Francisco in around 1849. Norton prospered in the commodities market and real estate speculation but by 1858 had lost his fortune and, apparently, his mind, becoming disenchanted with American government.
Norton held no real power, of course, but he was revered by his subjects in San Francisco, who afforded him every courtesy and even accepted his currency. An estimated 30,000 people attended his funeral in 1880 and the San Francisco Chronicle ran his obituary on the front page.
Quotebook: Much of command is the ability to take command. – Louis L’Amour, The Walking Drum
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: General Motors has twice been removed as a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The first time was in 1916 and the second in 2009.
Today’s Stumper: In what order did the delegates to the Constitutional Convention sign the document? – Answer next time!