Latest: Protesters begin to gather after not guilty verdict

The Latest on the murder trial of a white former police officer who fatally shot a black man in St. Louis (all times local):

9:40 a.m.

About a dozen protesters have gathered near the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis after a judge acquitted a white former St. Louis police officer of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a black man following a 2011 chase.

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

Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson issued his ruling against 36-year-old Jason Stockley. Stockley could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole had he been convicted.

Stockley shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase. Stockley says he saw Smith holding a gun before the chase began, and that he felt he was in imminent danger.

Prosecutors alleged Stockley planted a gun in Smith's car after he shot him.

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9 a.m.

A judge has acquitted a white former St. Louis police officer of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a black man following a high-speed chase in 2011.

Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson issued his ruling Friday against 36-year-old Jason Stockley. Stockley could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole had he been convicted.

Stockley shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith five times after a high-speed chase. Stockley says he saw Smith holding a gun before the chase began, and that he felt he was in imminent danger when he opened fire.

Prosecutors alleged that Stockley planted a gun in Smith's car after he shot him. A gun in the car had the officer's DNA on it, but not Smith's.

Stockley left the police force in 2013 and moved to Houston.

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8 a.m.

Preparations for possible protests are set in St. Louis, where a judge may rule Friday in the murder trial of a white former police officer who fatally shot a black suspect.

Jason Stockley's first-degree murder trial concluded Aug. 9 and St. Louis has been on edge awaiting Judge Timothy Wilson's ruling.

Stockley testified he shot Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011 because he thought the drug suspect was reaching for a gun. Prosecutors say Stockley planted the weapon.

Media reports and preparation announcements from officials indicate that Wilson may rule Friday. Gov. Eric Greitens has the National Guard on standby. Police are working 12-hour shifts, starting Friday. All downtown courthouses will be closed, including the federal courthouse, in anticipation of the verdict.

Greitens and Mayor Lyda Krewson are urging calm. Also asking for peace is Smith's fiancée, Christina Wilson.

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