READ: Entire judgment in Jason Stockley case

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The case has drawn a lot of attention in St Louis, where racial tensions have been high since the 2014 killing of a black man in the city's suburb of Ferguson by a white police officer.

Later in the evening, a group of about 300 protesters moved from the courthouse to the city's popular restaurant neighbourhood, the Central West End.

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Stockley, a passenger in the patrol vehicle with his personal AK-47 in one hand and department-issued weapon in the other, shot at Smith's auto, according to St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office spokeswoman Susan Ryan and charging documents.

Protesters are shouting that the Friday verdict is unfair and that they want justice.

At least 23 people were arrested as the protests turned violent Friday night as protestors threw rocks at law enforcement, injuring four officers.

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Friday's demonstrations led to several clashes - including rocks thrown at a police auto and objects tossed at officers in riot gear - and culminated when protesters broke a window and spattered red paint on the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.

"We know this verdict causes pain for many people", Greitens said in a statement.

"Not saying or doing anything makes you complicit in the brutalization of our friends and neighbors", said Susanna Prins, who carried a "White silence is violence" banner during the protests. She stated, "I believe we offered sufficient evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley meant to kill Mr. Smith". Stockley was accused of planting a gun at the scene of the crime in order to claim self-defense. The former policeman believed Smith was armed, defence attorneys said. St. Louis Public Radio adds that MPD officers will start 12-hour shifts this morning, and that several area school districts are considering early dismissal today.

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