- A St. Louis-area police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old African-American teen the night of December 23.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch spoke to a woman at the crime scene named Toni Martin who identified the victim as her son, Antonio Martin. A Washington Post reporter says the police confirmed his identity.
- In the wake of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri — two miles from this new shooting — police shootings nationwide have come under intense scrutiny, and sparked protests over white police officers' brutality against African Americans.
Police say the shooting victim was armed
Many residents at the scene and on social media said that Martin was unarmed when he was killed.
St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, however, said at a Wednesday morning press conference that Martin carried a 9mm handgun, which he aimed at the officer before being shot.
The St. Louis County Police Department has also released a surveillance video from the gas station that appears to show a man pulling a gun on another man.
Police also released photos of the gun they say Martin pulled.
St. Louis County PD releases photos of handgun they say Antonio Martin pulled on officer prior to shooting pic.twitter.com/8KlvZRH7AV— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) December 24, 2014
Some residents don't believe the video is clear in what it shows, and are skeptical about the decision not to release more footage.
The only thing this video confirmed for me is that I have a lot more unanswered questions. #AntonioMartin— deray mckesson (@deray) December 24, 2014
Belmar says the police department will not release the rest of the video footage, which shows the actual shooting, out of respect to Martin's family.
Chief Belmar said the victim was "known to law" enforcement, and had a criminal record as an adult (since the age of 17) including charges for three assaults, an armed robbery, and unlawful use of a weapon.
The police car's dashboard camera probably wasn't activated
The police officer involved in the shooting is a white male who has been on the Berkeley force for six years, according to Chief Belmar. The department has not released his identity.
His police car was equipped with a dashboard camera, which is supposed to begin filming when the police car's lights start to flash. Because the officer did not flash his lights, police officers are unsure if the camera was activated, said Chief Belmar.
Belmar also said that the officer had been given a body camera during his shift, but had clipped it in the car rather than taking the time to put it on. Belmar also said, however, that the officer hadn't been assigned the body camera at the beginning of his shift — implying that he wasn't required to be wearing it.
The body was in the street for two hours
Those gathered at the scene said Martin's body was left in the street for two hours before being transported (Belmar confirmed this timeline).
Residents claim that Martin was alive for 30 minutes after he was shot, and that police prevented his mother, who was at the scene, from going to her dying son:
St. Louis County police chief Belmar said that the officer who shot Martin called EMS responders to the scene, and that they pronounced Martin dead upon their arrival. Belmar did not say when the EMS responders arrived; however, residents at the scene said that EMS responders did not arrive for 90 minutes, well after police had arrived and started controlling the crowd.
According to Belmar, it was standard procedure not to remove Martin from the scene until the crime-scene investigation had been completed, and said that the two-hour duration was also standard.
A crowd of "200-300 people" gathered during that two hour period, Belmar said. Some, according to Belmar, threw bricks at police, and that three had thrown explosive devices — including one that landed near a gas pump.
According to Belmar, one officer was hit by a brick, and one was injured trying to get away from an explosion. Protesters claimed that police used tear gas and flashbang grenades against them; Belmar said that police used pepper spray, but not tear gas or flashbangs, and hypothesized that the protesters' explosive devices could have been mistaken for flashbangs thrown by police.
Two miles from Ferguson
The shooting of Martin happened in Berkeley, Mo., a St. Louis suburb that's two miles from Ferguson, Mo. — where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in August. Brown's killing, and the police response to the weeks of protests that followed it, were a national issue — but have been especially relevant to the St. Louis area. Many African-American residents are demonstrating a lack of trust in police, and many white residents have expressed fear of violence or unrest.
The fact that a crowd of hundreds of people gathered the night of Martin's killing, and that many residents are skeptical of the account St. Louis County police chief Belmar gave on Wednesday morning, indicate that the incident has added more fuel to existing tensions between black residents and police.