Antonio Martin (1996?-2014) was a Black teenager shot dead by a White police officer in Berkeley, Missouri on December 23rd 2014 at 11:14:55pm. In suburban St Louis, Berkeley is next to Ferguson, where Michael Brown, another Black 18-year-old, was gunned down by a White police officer last summer.
The shooting: Officer Unknown Name was called to a Mobil on the Go gas station at 6800 North Hanley Road to look into a report of shoplifting. Before entering the shop, he talked to Martin and his friend who were out front. Martin was “known to police”. The police say that Martin pulled a gun on the officer – yet did not shoot. The officer runs backwards, falling, shooting three times, hitting Martin once.
Martin was alive for a half hour, according to witnesses, yet no ambulance arrived. His body laid there for another hour and a half. Then the police put his body into the back of an SUV.
A gun, a black 9mm Hi-Point handgun, was recovered at the scene by police, but some witnesses say it did not appear there till hours after the shooting. The gun’s serial number is filed off so it is impossible to know where it came from.
White-on-Black policing: Berkeley is 82% Black. Most of the police officers who appear in pictures seem to be White.
Protesters: Between 200 and 300 gathered at the gas station. Among them was Martin’s inconsolable mother (pictured above). The police used pepper spray. Some protesters threw rocks and bricks. A fight broke out between the police and protesters. Three times something like fireworks went off (pictured below).
Four protesters were arrested, two officers were injured. The QuikTrip shop across the street was damaged.
The following night, Christmas Eve, Martin’s mother and others held a candlelight vigil. Police in riot gear arrived. There were fewer than 100 protesters but at one point they managed to shut down the nearby Inner Belt Expressway (I-170). Some shops were damaged, none were robbed.
- Officer Unknown Name had a body camera but did not wear it. His car had a camera too, but he did not turn it on.
- The gas station has a ton of security cameras, yet the three videos made public so far are unclear. In none of them does a gun appear. Two of them are shot from so faraway you cannot even see the officer’s gun. In the other one you can only see part of Martin and the officer. In that one Martin appears to have a mobile phone: a lighted rectangle briefly appears. Mobile phones count as a Phantom Negro Weapon.
The press: The police would not make public the name of the officer, but they did make public Martin’s juvenile police record, something they are not supposed to do. Nothing in it suggests Martin would pull a gun on the police.
The mayor says people should not jump to conclusions before the police have completed their investigation – of themselves.