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Officer Shoots Armed Black Teen In Missouri, Sparking Clashes

The 18-year-old man was shot at a Mobil gas station after pulling a gun, Berkeley police said. A crowd later gathered and clashed with police.

Originally posted on
Updated on

What We Know So Far

  • A police officer in Berkeley, Missouri, shot and killed Antonio Martin 18-year-old man late Tuesday night after he allegedly pointed a gun at him.
  • The shooting happened just miles from where Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • The St. Louis County Police Department has taken over the investigation.
  • Attorney for the officer says his client "vividly recalls" Martin pointing his handgun.

Updates

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The officer who shot Antonio Martin is lucky to be alive, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Brian Millikan told BuzzFeed News that the officer "vividly recalls staring right down the barrel" of the Martin's gun.

According to Millikan, the altercation began when the officer — who has not been identified — saw a suspect walking away and ordered him to come back. The suspect — later identified as Martin — returned, reached into his left pant pocket, and pulled out a semi-automatic handgun, Millikan said.

"There was a brief moment when the officer was trying to process that," Millikan said. "At that point, the suspect starts to raise the gun."

For some reason, that gun didn't have time to go off, giving the officer a chance to transfer his flashlight to his left hand, draw his own weapon, and fire. Millikan added that the office did not see if the suspect pulled the trigger and the gun fired, if he didn't pull the trigger at all, or if something else happened.

"It all happened so quickly that he wasn't looking at his trigger finger," Millikan said. "He was looking at the gun. And trying to process all of it."

The officer was shaken by the shooting, Millikan said. He added that he hopes the department never publicly identifies the officer, though that decision rests with municipal and police authorities.

"Our position is there's no substantive reason to release the name," Millikan said. "All it does is put the policeman and his family in harm's way."

This post has been updated with comments from Millikan's interview with BuzzFeed News.

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A third angle of the shooting shows the police officer stepping backward and retreating after firing.

View this video on YouTube

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Authorities released another surveillance video Wednesday afternoon. Much of the interaction between Martin and a police officer takes place just out of the frame.

View this video on YouTube

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Police said three of the 31 cameras at the scene showed the shooting.

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The St. Louis County police have confirmed the name of the 18-year-old teen shot dead as Antonio Martin. He lived in St. Louis.

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Berkeley's mayor says the shooting can't be compared to Michael Brown's death in Ferguson and Eric Garner's in New York.

Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins on Wednesday emphasized that the previous night's shooting was very different from the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

"You couldn't even compare this to Ferguson or the Garner case in New York," Hoskins said at a press conference.

He stressed that the video recorded by surveillance cameras at the Mobil parking lot will be used two independent investigations: one by the City of Berkeley, the other by the St. Louis County Police Department independently, Hoskins said.

"Our goal is to project the truth to the residents," he said.

When pressed to explain how this case differs from that of Brown's and Garner's, Hoskins said it appears the 18-year-old victim was the one that initiated the confrontation.

"Some people die because police initiate it. Some people die because they initiate it. At this point, our review indicated that the police did not initiate this," he said.

He also went on to say that Berkeley's police force is predominantly African-American, unlike Ferguson's.

"Well, we have a majority of black officers in our city," he said. "The major is black. The city manager is black. The finance director is black. The police chief is black … our experience is different."

The mayor also said he wasn't bothered that the dashboard camera and police body camera were not activated during the incident because the technology is relatively new to the department and officers aren't fully trained in it.

"It would have been helpful and in the future there will be a severe penalty for an officer that doesn't turn it on," he said.

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Antonio Martin's mother said her son "was not a violent person."

Toni Martin-Green spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"This doesn't make any sense for them to kill my son line this," Toni Martin-Green said early Wednesday from her home located near the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. "I am trying to be calm."

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"In the last year, he was really trying to find who he was. He was ready to take the world on," the father said. "He knew he had parents who loved him. He had that support."

"He was not a violent person, to our knowledge," he added. "Around us there weren't any pistols. It's hard to believe that."
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St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, at a news conference on Wednesday morning, said an armed teen drew his gun at a Berkeley police officer, bringing on the fatal gunfire.

St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar on Wednesday morning laid out the sequence of events in the shooting of an armed teenager.

The 34-year-old police officer responded to a call about a robbery at a Mobil gas station at approximately 11:15 p.m. It is unknown if the call originated from the gas station or if the victim was the suspect of the robbery.

When the officer arrived, he called over two individuals whom he saw in the parking lot. They approached his cruiser.

The officer, a six-year veteran of the force, was talking to one of the men as another moved away.

The officer, who is white, began talking to the other person, who was standing near the front passenger side headlight of the police cruiser. The officer was near the front driver's side wheel.

The person across the hood drew a gun and raised it toward the police officer, Belmar said, demonstrating the motion with his arm.

The police officer fired three shots as he moved back, lost his balance, and fell to the ground. One bullet struck the suspect, another hit the tire, and the third bullet is unaccounted for. Belmar said it appears that all three shots came from the officer's weapon and that no other shots were fired.

The 18-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. The police chief said the victim was known to law enforcement with a record of assault and firearm offenses.

Belmar said there are two witnesses from the parking lot — unaffiliated with the two men the officer spoke to — and they are trying to identify the other person who was with the victim. That person fled the scene.

During the press conference, Belmar showed video footage of the incident, captured by cameras at the Mobil parking lot. The video cuts as the 18-year-old male draws his gun and points it toward the officer.

"The video goes on but there is no reason for the family of this young man to see the rest of the video," Belmar said.

The police car was equipped with a dashboard camera, but it was not on because the police cruiser's emergency lights were not activated. The police officer was also given a body cam by a supervisor earlier in his shift, but he had not put it on.

"It's the imperfection of the technology that we have," Belmar said. "We're not used to having it all the time."

Following the shooting, approximately 200 to 300 people gathered at the gas station to protest. Belmar said the protesters threw bricks at officers and deployed three explosive devices, possibly packed fireworks, near the gas pump. Four people were arrested by the Berkeley Police Department for assaulting officers. Two officers suffered minor injuries.

Belmar said he understood that emotions were running high for the protesters but emphasized the danger of brining explosive devices to a gas station.

The police officer will be placed on administrative leave until he consults a psychiatrist and until he feels fit to return to duty, Belmar said.

"What we're really trying to do is try to be as transparent as we possibly can," Belmar said. "We really want the community to understand this, too."

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The police news conference:

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Here's video of the events leading up to the shooting. The St. Louis County police said that at the very end, a man on the left can be seen raising his hand at the officer. He was allegedly holding a gun, police spokesperson Sgt. Brian Schellman said.

View this video on YouTube

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When I left #berkeley 10 minutes ago crowd of 12 or so was calm.

Jesse Bogan @JesseBoganFollow

When I left #berkeley 10 minutes ago crowd of 12 or so was calm.

6:09 AM - 24 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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County PIO Schellman says it appears from his review of video that officer only fired after one of two individuals pulled gun

Jen Mann@j_s_mannFollow

County PIO Schellman says it appears from his review of video that officer only fired after one of two individuals pulled gun

7:16 AM - 24 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite