From [HERE] A report issued Tuesday by Attorney General Josh Hawley concludes that a lawyer in his predecessor’s office improperly withheld evidence while the state and the family of Anthony Lamar Smith negotiated a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013.
St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley shot and killed Smith following a pursuit in 2011. Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder charges in September, sparking rounds of ongoing protests throughout the region.
During his trial, prosecutors presented evidence that a revolver investigators recovered from Smith’s car only contained Stockley’s DNA. But in 2013, no such evidence was available to Smith family attorneys as they negotiated a wrongful death settlement with former Attorney General Chris Koster’s office. At the time, the St. Louis Police Department was under state control.
Hawley recently commissioned ex-federal prosecutor Hal A. Goldsmith to investigate.
In an 11-page report released Tuesday, Goldsmith wrote that at least one assistant attorney general and “many agents” of the St. Louis Police Board of Commissioners knew about the DNA evidence, yet did not disclose it to Smith’s family. The St. Louis County Police Department Board of Police Commissioners is a civilian oversight board with five members representing the citizens of St. Louis County. [MORE]
“This type of injustice cannot be permitted,” attorney Albert S. Watkins told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, adding the evidence could’ve helped Smith’s family secure a higher settlement. They settled for $900,000 in June 2013.
Watkins said he would seek to reopen the civil case, possibly earning a higher settlement. He also wanted to make sure “this never happens again.”
“I will take methodical and calculated measures to wreak havoc on their lives,” Watkins said of those responsible for withholding the information.
He added it appeared the cellphone footage shot by a witness after the shooting was not available to law enforcement until the Post-Dispatch reported on it in 2016.
Goldsmith said a March 2013 order from U.S. District Court Judge Jean Hamilton, and the plaintiff’s discovery requests, compelled the defense to turn over the DNA evidence, which they did not do.
“The DNA test result information should have been produced pursuant to that Court’s Order and Plaintiff’s discovery requests,” Goldsmith said.
City Counselor Julian Bush and Koran Addo, spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, both said the city was not at fault.
“This was completely out of the hands of the city,” Addo said. “This is an attorney general’s office issue.”
Hawley’s office, in a news release, mentioned “wrongdoing by the Koster Administration.” Hawley, in a statement, also seemed to cast blame on the city, saying Goldsmith “concluded there was a clear discovery violation on behalf of the City of St. Louis in the civil lawsuit with the family of Anthony Lamar Smith.”
The news release said Stockley and the Police Board of Commissioners would not sign disclosure agreements, meaning the complete report is still closed to the public.
Watkins believes both the city and the state share guilt.
“When you did have state control, you did have regular interaction between the attorney general’s office and the city counselor’s office,” he said.