About 70 demonstrators shut down a Missouri interstate highway on Christmas eve to protest the killing of another black teen at the hands of a white police officer, as officials urge that this was not another Ferguson.
As midnight mass approached in Berkley, Missouri, a group of protesters also gathered at a local church to hold a candlelight vigil for Antonio Martin, an 18-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a police officer on Tuesday. Police in riot gear stood by the scene.
The demonstrators then made their way to the Mobil gas station where Martin was shot. At least one person was arrested at the gas station, according to NBC News affiliate station KSDK.
The St. Louis County Police confirmed the death Wednesday, saying the teen had pulled a gun on an officer and that “fearing for his life” he had “fired several shots.” According to police, a handgun was recovered at the scene.
The shooting death brought up memories of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed only a few miles away, reigniting the months-long clash between police officers and the communities they serve. African-American teen Martin, like Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer.
Mayor Theodore Hoskins spoke Wednesday morning to emphasize that this was not another Ferguson.
“We’re different than the city of Ferguson,” he said in a press conference, noting that the mayor, city manager, and police chief are all black. ”At this point, it appears – let me say this strongly – it appears that the person, this deceased, was pointing a gun which was found at the scene.”
“Everybody don’t die the same,” he continued. “Some people die because the police initiated it, some people die because they initiated it. At this point our review indicates that the police did not initiate this like Ferguson.”
Police reported early Wednesday that the officer had fired three shots and that one had struck the victim; the gun recovered was a 9 mm and had five shots in the chamber. At this time, they don’t believe the suspect fired his weapon. The officer was responding to a robbery call when he approached two young people, one of whom was the victim. The second fled the site.
Officials were quick to release security videos at different angels, and insisted this death is much different than what happened to Brown. There is camera footage of the shooting from the gas station, which police released on Youtube; it shows the young man – quite far from the camera – raising his arm, but the gun police say he held is not clearly visible. The officer was not wearing his department-issued body camera at the time of the incident, officials said on Wednesday, and the dash cam – activated by police car lights – was also not on.
Invstigations began under the St. Louis County Police Department and the local Berkely Police Department, with Hoskins promising transparency throughout.
This the third police shooting death of a young black man in the area since Aug. 9, when Brown, unarmed, was shot and killed by a local officer. A second teen, who was armed, was shot and killed in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis by an off-duty police officer in October. The latest shooting comes just as many have called for a halt to nationwide anti-police brutality protests in the wake of the deaths of two New York City police officers who were killed by a man allegedly outraged by the deaths of Brown and others.