BERKELEY, Missouri — The mayor of a St. Louis suburb called for calm Wednesday after a white police officer fatally shot a black 18-year-old who police said pointed a gun at him, touching off renewed protests that have lingered since the shooting death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the Berkeley officer was questioning two men — one later identified as 18-year-old Antonio Martin — late Tuesday about a theft at a Berkeley convenience store when Martin pulled a 9mm handgun on the officer.
Officer kills armed 18-year-old near FergusonThis an update provided by CCTV America's Sean Callebs about an officer shooting death in Berkeley Missouri.
The officer stumbled backward but fired three shots, one of which struck Martin, Belmar said. No shots came from Martin’s loaded gun, the chief said. Martin died at the scene, though Belmar declined to specify where the fatal bullet hit Martin.
Berkeley is near Ferguson, Missouri, where white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, on Aug. 9, sparking weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations. A grand jury’s decision to not charge Wilson last month in the shooting has spurred a nationwide movement to protest police brutality.
The 34-year-old, white Berkeley police officer, who has been on the police force for six years in the 25,000-resident suburb, is on administrative leave pending an investigation, Belmar said. St. Louis County police and the city of Berkeley are investigating, Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said.
“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 whose name was not immediately released. “There are no winners here.”
The officer wasn’t wearing his body camera, and his police cruiser’s dashboard camera was not activated because the car’s emergency lights were not on, Belmar said.
Police released surveillance video from the parking lot outside the store. The nearly two-minute clip shows two young men leaving the store as a patrol car rolls up, and the officer gets out and speaks with them. About 90 seconds later, the video appears to show one of the men raising his arm, though what he is holding is difficult to see because they were several feet from the camera. Belmar said it was a 9mm handgun — loaded with one round in the chamber and five more in the magazine.
Police were searching for the other man, who fled on foot.
Martin’s relatives were not immediately available for comment Wednesday. The address listed for Martin turned out to be a vacant, boarded-up home, and a neighbor told The Associated Press that the family had moved out some time ago. He said he wasn’t sure where they moved.
It was the third fatal shooting of a black suspect by a white police officer in the St. Louis area since Brown was killed. Kajieme Powell, 25, was killed on Aug. 19 after approaching St. Louis officers with a knife. Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18, was fatally shot on Oct. 8 after allegedly shooting at a St. Louis officer.
Each shooting has been met by protests, and a crowd quickly gathered late Tuesday in Berkeley. The demonstration involving about 300 people turned violent.
More than 50 police officers, some in riot gear, responded. Video showed some wrestling with protesters. Belmar said officers used pepper spray but not tear gas. Four people were arrested on charges of assaulting officers.
Belmar said three explosive devices, perhaps fireworks, were tossed near gas pumps, and some protesters threw rocks and bricks. 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.
“I understand police officers have a job and have an obligation to go home to their families at the end of the night,” said 36-year-old Orlando Brown, one of the protesters. “But do you have to treat every situation with lethal force? … It’s not a racial issue, or black or white. It’s wrong or right.”
Story compiled with information from The Associated Press.