Settlement over claims of hidden evidence in St. Louis case
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The daughter of a black man fatally shot by a white St. Louis police officer will be paid an additional $500,000 to settle claims that attorneys for city and Missouri officials hid evidence in an earlier civil case.
Attorneys for both sides filed a joint motion to approve the settlement Thursday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . Officials agreed to later release a report that found “clear discovery violations” when evidence was not turned over to attorneys for Anthony Lamar Smith’s daughter.
Smith, 24, was killed by then-officer Jason Stockley after a police chase in 2011. Stockley was charged with first-degree murder nearly five years later and acquitted in September 2017. The ruling set off weeks of protests in St. Louis.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Smith’s daughter initially settled in 2013 for $900,000. Stockley resigned from the police department that same year.
The report cited in the new settlement was compiled by Hal Goldsmith, who was a private attorney at the time he took on the task. He has since rejoined the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis.
City Counselor Julian Bush said Goldsmith did not conclude that the failure to turn over evidence was “willful.”
“I can tell you it was inadvertent,” Bush said.
But attorney Al Watkins, who represents Smith’s daughter, called the failure “tragic” and said it “compromised the integrity of our federal civil rights system.”
The city and the attorney general’s office will split the $500,000 payment. The state money comes from a state legal defense fund. The settlement says the city will seek reimbursement from that same fund, although the attorney general’s office disputes that reimbursement is appropriate.
The settlement also indicates there is no admission of liability by city and state officials or their lawyers.
Watkins sought to reopen the case after the murder charge was filed against Stockley in 2016 and he learned there was DNA evidence in the case. He also said internal affairs and FBI files should have been turned over but were not.
Smith was spotted by Stockley and his partner in a suspected drug transaction in December 2011. Police said Smith nearly struck the officers while driving away, prompting a chase that ended when Stockley shot Smith while Smith was still in his car.
Stockley claimed he shot Smith in self-defense, but prosecutors said Stockley planted the gun found in Smith’s car.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com