Law enforcement officers stand guard during a protest action following a not guilty verdict on September 15, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by AFP)
Top officials in the US city of Saint Louis have called for an independent investigation of police amid a growing public pressure over misconduct by the law enforcement during recent protests.
Saint Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Interim Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole on Wednesday called for the Department of Justice to conduct a third-party probe alongside the police internal affairs and the civilian oversight board.
The two officials said the investigation is necessary because it’s important that the public trust authorities.
The mayor and police chief said in a statement they have pledged “an objective, thorough, and fair investigation of all complaints and lawsuits.”  
“These are troubling and difficult allegations, and it is important to determine if they are merited and, if so, what policy, training or discipline issues need to be addressed,” the statement said.
Lyda Krewson speaks with reporters after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on March 7, 2017. (Photo via St. Louis Public Radio)
The American Civil Liberties Union has already sued Saint Louis on behalf of protesters over illegal arrests and the use of unnecessary force against demonstrators.
In a statement on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri praised the move.
“Based on the evidence we’ve seen, we believe an outside investigation into police treatment of protesters and those engaged in civil disobedience following the Stockley verdict is a step in the right direction,” Tony Rothert, legal director of the group, said in a statement.
The recent wave of demonstrations erupted in the city after a white police officer was acquitted of murder in the killing of a black suspect.
On September 14, Judge Timothy Wilson cleared Jason Stockley, 36, who was charged with first-degree murder for killing Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.
The officer quit the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 2013 and was arrested in May 2016. Stockley was accused of planting a gun in Smith's car but claimed in his testimony that he did this in self-defense.
The violent protests in the city evoked memories of the riots following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, by a white officer in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.
At least 1,093 people were killed by police in the US last year, according to The Guardian newspaper's The Counted database.

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