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Attorney claims city and state withheld evidence in civil case against St. Louis police officer

Attorney claims city and state withheld evidence in civil case against St. Louis police officer


ST. LOUIS • An attorney who represented the young daughter of a man killed by a police officer says the city and state didn’t turn over all evidence in the case before his client agreed to a settlement.

Attorney Albert Watkins wants the city to reopen mediation in the civil suit. If not, Watkins says he’ll ask a judge to reopen the civil case. That would essentially set aside a $900,000 settlement paid to survivors of Anthony Lamar Smith while lawyers argue for more damages.

Watkins represents the daughter of Smith, who was fatally shot by then-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley after a pursuit in December 2011. Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce charged Stockley with murder last month in the shooting.

Stockley is no longer with the force and was living in Houston when he was charged. Stockley, 35, has said he fired in self-defense. A revolver was found in Smith’s car.

In an emailed letter to City Counselor Michael Garvin sent Wednesday, Watkins gave the city 10 days to provide evidence he says was withheld from him and to schedule a mediation process.

Watkins and attorneys for Smith’s mother, Annie Smith, won the wrongful death settlement in 2013. The police department was controlled by the state at the time, so the attorney general’s office represented the police department.

In his letter, Watkins says city and state attorneys never turned over copies of reports showing the presence of only Stockley’s DNA on the revolver that Stockley said he found inside Smith’s car.

Stockley has said he handled the gun to unload it after the shooting.

Watkins says the state and city also did not provide a copy of a cellphone video taken by a witness immediately following the shooting. Watkins says the video shows Stockley did not retrieve a first aid device when he went back to his police car after the shooting, as he said he did.

In a statement, Garvin said his office has forwarded Watkins’ letter to the attorney general’s office for a response because the state handled the case. Garvin said he was researching what information the attorney general had.

Nanci Gonder, spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster’s office, said the office gave “every report and video in our possession to plaintiff’s counsel.” Gonder said the attorney general never received results of a DNA analysis of the revolver.

Joyce and U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan, who reviewed evidence in the shooting in 2012, have both said they were unaware of the cellphone video and had not seen it until the Post-Dispatch obtained it earlier this month from activists. Watkins believes authorities knew of its existence, and had it at the time of his lawsuit.

Watkins, along with attorney Anthony Gray, who is representing Smith’s mother, argue that the DNA evidence and cellphone video would have played in their favor had the civil case gone to trial.

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Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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