‘There are no winners here’

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 25 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Black teen Antonio Martin was shot dead in Berkeley, Missouri, Tuesday night by the St Louis police. The shooting occurred five miles from where Mike Brown was shot in Ferguson, the heart of protest in America since August. The circumstances surrounding the death are unclear with police claiming that Martin was armed and drew a weapon. Witnesses at the scene claim that Martin was unarmed. He was reportedly with his girlfriend and another friend at the time of the shooting. Witnesses have claimed that Martin was still breathing at the time of being shot, but that medical assistance was not forthcoming. His mother Toni Martin was brought to the scene and watched from a distance as her son lay in the Mobil petrol station lot. The shooting has caused civil unrest, with four people reportedly arrested so far.

On the run ... Police try to control a crowd on the lot of a gas station following a shooting in Berkeley. Source: AP Source: AP

THE police killing of another black teen just streets from the tumultuous suburb of Ferguson has prompted US authorities to again call for calm amid increasing unrest.

The mayor of the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley urged calm last night after a white police officer killed a black 18-year-old who police said pointed a gun at him, reigniting tensions that have lingered since the death of Michael Brown in neighbouring Ferguson.

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A crowd of about 300 people gathered at the gas station where Antonio Martin was shot late yesterday, throwing rocks and bricks in a scene reminiscent of the sometimes-violent protests that followed Brown's death.

Police scuffle with protesters on the lot of a gas station following the shooting in Berkeley, Mo. St. Louis. Source: AP Source: AP

A smaller crowd gathered during the night. Dozens of protesters met at the gas station for a vigil, then marched to Interstate 170, at times blocking traffic, before returning to the station, according to local media reports. Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall told KMOV-TV that six to eight people were arrested.

Unlike the shooting of Brown, which was not captured on video, Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said surveillance footage appeared to show Martin pulling a gun on the unidentified 34-year-old officer who questioned him and another man about a theft at a convenience store. Brown was unarmed.

"You couldn't even compare this with Ferguson or the Garner case in New York," Hoskins said, referring to the chokehold death of Eric Garner, another black man killed by a white police officer.

Hoskins, who is black, also noted that unlike in Ferguson — where a mostly white police force serves a mostly black community — more than half of the officers in his city of 9,000 are black, including top command staff.

However, police involved in the latest incident were not wearing the personal video camera gear they had been issued with, and some St Lois protesters have questioned whether the distant and blurry footage shows Martin holding a mobile phone — and not his gun.

A demonstrator holds her hands up during protest outside the Mobil On-The-Run gas and convenience store in Berkeley, Missouri. Source: AFP Source: AFP

NO SHOTS FIRED

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar did not provide more details about the theft Martin was being asked about. He said Martin pulled a loaded 9mm handgun and the officer fired three shots while stumbling backward. One hit Martin, who didn't fire his own gun. He died at the scene.

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"I don't know why the guy didn't get a shot off, whether his gun jammed or he couldn't get the safety off," said attorney Brian Millikan, who is representing the officer. He said that the officer was lucky to be alive and certain he had no choice but to use lethal force.

Evidence assessed ... Police photograph a gun on the ground following a shooting at a gas station in Berkeley, St. Louis. Source: AP Source: AP

Police throughout the country have been on alert since two New York officers were gunned down in an ambush last weekend by a man who had made threatening posts online about killing police. He later killed himself.

St. Louis County police and the city of Berkeley are investigating the shooting of Martin, which Belmar called a tragedy for both Martin's family and the officer, who has been on the force for six years.

"He will carry the weight of this for the rest of his life, certainly for the rest of his career," Belmar said of the officer. "There are no winners here."

No surrender ... Protesters shut down an interstate at Airport Road in Berkeley for a second night after the shooting by a white police officer of a black 18-year-old. Source: AP Source: AP

CAMERAS 'NOT ACTIVATED'

The officer wasn't wearing his body camera, and his cruiser's dashboard camera was not activated because the car's emergency lights were not on, Belmar said.

Police released surveillance video clips from three different angles. The men can be seen leaving the store as a patrol car drives up. The officer gets out and speaks with them.

About 90 seconds later, one appears to raise his arm, though it's difficult to see what he's holding. Belmar said it was a 9mm handgun with one round in the chamber and five more in the magazine.

Police released a photo of the weapon they recovered from the scene via Twitter.

Belmar said Martin had a criminal record that included three assault charges, plus charges of armed robbery, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

Merry Christmas ... Heavily armed St. Louis Police officers guard the entrance to the Cathedral Basilica before Midnight Mass as protesters held a candlelight vigil. AP Source: AP

COMMUNITY GRIEF

Phone messages left for his parents were not returned. His mother, Toni Martin-Green, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Antonio was the oldest of four children.

"He's like any other kid who had dreams or hopes," she said. "We loved being around him. He'd push a smile out of you."

His was the third fatal shooting of a young black man by a white police officer in the St. Louis area since Brown was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Kajieme Powell, 25, was killed Aug. 19 after approaching St. Louis officers with a knife. Vonderrit Myers, 18, was fatally shot on Oct. 8 after allegedly shooting at a St. Louis officer.

Do or die ... Demonstrators participate in a die-in protest outside the Mobil On-The-Run gas and convenience store in Berkeley. Source: AFP Source: AFP

Each killing has led to protests, as did a grand jury's decision last month not to charge Wilson in Brown's death. A crowd quickly gathered late Tuesday in Berkeley. The demonstration involving about 300 people turned violent.

More than 50 police officers responded to protests yesterday. Belmar said officers used pepper spray. Four people were arrested on charges of assaulting officers.

Belmar said three explosive devices, perhaps fireworks, were tossed near gas pumps. One officer hit by a brick was treated for facial cuts, and another was treated for a leg injury sustained as he retreated from an explosive.

Growing unrest ... A woman walks with police near the gas station where black 18-year-old Antonio Martin was killed by police. Source: AP Source: AP

DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat who has been critical of how police handled the Brown case, said the Martin shooting was far different than Brown's, noting that Martin pointed a weapon at the officer.

"That officer not only has an obligation to protect the community, but he also has a responsibility to protect himself," said the senator, who is black. "Because of the video, it is more than apparent that his life was in jeopardy."

But Taurean Russell, co-founder of Hands Up United, asked if police had any reason to question Martin in the first place. Mistrust of police remains high among blacks, many of whom are weary of harassment, said Russell, who is black.

Some protesters questioned why the officer couldn't use pepper spray or a stun gun.

"Frankly, that's unreasonable," Belmar said.

"When we had somebody pointing a gun at a police officer, there's not a lot of time."


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