JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) — Missouri’s attorney general will hire an independent investigator to find out if his predecessor withheld evidence before Anthony Lamar Smith’s family settled a wrongful-death lawsuit in the case of the black man who was killed by the white policeman who was cleared of a murder charge this month.
Smith was killed by St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley in December 2011. His family settled the wrongful death lawsuit with the City of St. Louis for $900,000 in 2013.
A city judge found Stockley not guilty of murder on Sept. 15 this year, setting off numerous protests throughout the St. Louis area.
On Monday, Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a statement: “The attorney for the family of Anthony Lamar Smith has raised serious allegations of wrongdoing by the Koster administration. As Mr. Smith’s family states, these allegations deserve ‘a full, accurate, and transparent’ accounting.”
Hawley, a Republican, replaced Chris Koster, a Democrat, this year.
The review of evidence was spurred by a Sept. 18 letter from Albert Watkins, an attorney representing the Smith family, to Hawley’s office.
The 14-page demand letter seeks the date certain DNA evidence was received by the City of St. Louis, the date a second video of the shooting was received by the city, and copies of the DNA reports from the tests performed on the gun recovered from Smith’s vehicle.
Watkins wrote that evidence presented at Stockley’s criminal trial showed that the St. Louis had possession of the evidence well before the mediation of the federal civil rights case.
The St. Louis Police Department was under state control at the time and was represented by the Attorney General’s Office.
Hawley’s office said that after reviewing Watkins’ letter, it decided the independent counsel would have “full access to files and personnel to ensure a comprehensive and unbiased review of the potential wrongdoing.”