A Missouri cop shot and killed a man Tuesday night in St. Louis County, two miles from Ferguson, sparking more civil unrest as protesters clashed with police in the aftermath of the shooting.
Berkeley police say the 18-year-old man pulled a gun on the cop, causing him to fear for his life, which led to the officer pulling his own gun out and firing.
Police even provided a surveillance video that shows the suspect, Antonio Martin, raising his arm towards police as one would raise a gun.
But police cut the video immediately after that motion, preventing the public from seeing the cop pulling out his own gun and firing, insisting they are doing it out of respect for Martin’s family.
They also said the officer was assigned a body cam, but was not wearing it. And they say the car was equipped with a dash cam but it only turns on when the cop turns on his emergency lights, which was not the case here.
And the only reason the cop was not wearing his body cam was because he had not been trained to clip it on his uniform and turn it on, which takes approximately six months to get it right, said Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins.
According to ABC News:
“At this point it’s relatively new,” Hoskins said of the body cameras. “We only have three [body cams], so if it had been six months from today and we had gone through all the training I would have some concerns.”
But since authorities have the gas station surveillance video that shows the interaction, Hoskins said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of body cam footage.
“It would’ve been helpful, and in the future and when we get well trained, there will be a severe penalty for an officer who does not turn it on,” Hoskins added.
But the gas station video doesn’t contain audio nor a close-up of the interaction as the body and dash cams would have.
The incident took place Tuesday night at about 11:15 p.m. when the officer, a 34-year-old white man, drove up to the gas station in response to a report of a robbery.
The video shows Martin and a friend, both black men, standing in front of a convenience store at a gas station. They begin to walk away as the cop pulls up and steps out of the car.
Martin’s friend walks up to the cop while Martin walks away from the cop. The cop, who has a lit flashlight in his hand, then appears to order Martin to walk towards him, which he does.
The cop then appears to want to frisk Martin, placing his hands on him as if to have him step up against the car with his hands on the hood, but Martin takes a few steps back.
It was then when police say he pulled out a gun, but it is impossible to determine from the video if he really did have a gun. Police say they recovered a 9-millimeter gun with its serial number scraped off. They also said Martin’s friend ran off.
Hundreds of protesters descended upon the scene, resulting in clashes with police, adding more fuel to the already tense national environment between citizens and police.
Witnesses on Twitter say Martin remained alive for 30 minutes but police refused to provide him medical assistance. Here is a dispatch recording from the minutes after the shooting where the dispatcher is asking for help with crowd control but not for an ambulance.
While police insist the video should clear any doubts up, there are still many unanswered questions:
- Why didn’t the officer have his emergency lights considering he was speaking to a pair of potential armed robbers, which would have ensured his dash camera would have been turned on and surely have captured the entire incident at close range?
- Why would a patrol car’s dash cam even be set up to where it only turns on if the car’s emergency lights are turned on? How would that help in an ambush as we saw in New York City where two cops were killed just sitting in their car with their emergency lights turned off?
- How did the cop manage to pull out his gun so fast if he was already holding a flashlight in his right hand and the suspect’s alleged gun was pointing at him from point-blank range?
- Why do the cops insist on not showing us the entire footage, claiming it is out of respect for the family when respect for the truth should take a much higher priority, especially in an incident that could lead to more riots? After all, we recently learned how editing a video in mid-action can completely alter a story.
- Is there more footage from other cameras they are not showing us, perhaps closer angles as the one they are showing us is quite far?
- Will Martin’s fingerprints be found on the gun, which had its serial number scraped off?
- Is it possible that Martin could simply have been pointing his finger at the cop, telling him to back off from trying to illegally search him?
- Is it possible Martin had pulled out his phone to record the cop trying to illegally search him?
- Is it possible the gun could have been planted as police departments have done in the past to justify shooting unarmed citizens, including recently in New York City ?
- Why did police initially describe it as a “routine business check” only to later say the cop was responding to a robbery call, which would normally prompt the use of emergency lights?
It’s also quite possible that everything went down exactly how police explained it, which would give the cop more than an enough justification to kill Martin.
But then why not just release the entire video instead of allowing tensions, speculations, accusations and anger to continue to grow in the wake of yet another police shooting death?
Here is the surveillance video as well as a video of the clashes after the shooting.