Tensions in St. Louis: How did we get here?

Darran Simon, CNN | 9/19/2017, 8:12 a.m.
Since white ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted Friday in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, ...
Police arrested more than 80 people and confiscated at least five weapons after a night of unrest in downtown St. Louis KMOV/CNN

CNN) -- Since white ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted Friday in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old black man, demonstrators have taken to the streets every night. Largely peaceful in the daytime and sometimes turning violent after dark, the protests have reignited the national conversation over race, police conduct and the use of the deadly force.

Protests also broke out in the aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and again later that year after a grand jury decline to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

Tensions in St. Louis are likely to persist, given the rarity of convictions for police officers in fatal shootings -- even in high profile cases with strong video evidence. Here is an overview of the events that brought St. Louis to this moment:

Fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith

On December 20, 2011, Stockley, then a member of the St. Louis police force, and his partner, Brian Bianchi, tried to stop Smith after witnessing what they believed to be a drug transaction in a restaurant parking lot, according to a police report obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a CNN affiliate.

Bianchi told Stockley that Smith was reaching for a weapon, the report said. Stockley got out of the police SUV, carrying his department-issued handgun, and his personal AK-47 pistol, a violation of department policy, according to a criminal complaint.

But Smith tried to drive away, knocking Stockley sideways. Stockley fired several shots at the vehicle, the report said.

With Bianchi driving, the officers chased Smith at speeds of more than 80 mph before the police vehicle crashed into Smith's Buick, according to a criminal complaint.

Smith was alive after the crash, and officers approached his car with their weapons drawn. Stockley ordered Smith to show his hands, believing Smith was reaching for a handgun between the passenger seat and the center console, according to an internal report.

Stockley fired five times into the vehicle, hitting Smith in the chest.

Stockley said he returned to his police SUV for supplies to give Smith first aid, but it was too late by the time Stockley got back to the Smith's car. Stockley entered Smith's car "to locate the weapon and render it safe," and removed ammunition from the silver revolver, he said in the report.

Only Stockley's DNA was found on the gun he said belonged to Smith, the criminal complaint said.

The shooting made few headlines nationally.

Neither officer was charged. In 2013, Stockley left the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Fatal shooting of Michael Brown

A year later, another shooting sparked protests in Ferguson, a suburb northwest of St. Louis.

On August 9, 2014, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man during a struggle.

What happened when Michael Brown met Ferguson officer Darren Wilson

Protestors quickly took to the streets, clashing with police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. A movement that grew out of the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012, #BlackLivesMatter, became an integral part of the protests that gained national attention.