Former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley (Credit: Police)

WASHINGTON, District of Columbia- Senator Roy Blunt has issued the following statement in the wake of the Jason Stockley not guilty verdict rendered today:

The family of Anthony Lamar Smith suffered a tragic loss. This is a difficult day for them, and for all St. Louisans who sought a different outcome in this case.

The response to this verdict will have a lasting impact not just on the community, but the country. Every American has the right to protest peacefully, and should have no doubt that right will be protected.

However, if this verdict is met with violence and destruction, it will do nothing but reignite the fear and anger that law enforcement and community leaders have worked tirelessly to address since Ferguson.

If it is met with a renewed commitment to continuing the work that is needed to rebuild trust between law enforcement and those they serve, it will show the world how we, as Americans, move forward.

Roy Dean Blunt  currently serves as the junior United States senator from Missouri, having been in office since 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party.