A police shooting in Berkeley, Mo., that left a black teenager dead in a convenience store parking lot two days before Christmas occurred after the teen pulled a gun on an officer, according to the results of an internal review released by authorities Tuesday.
Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall said the investigation confirmed that 18-year-old Antonio Martin had pulled a gun on officers and attempted to fire before an officer, fearing for his life, fired three rounds.
Investigators determined that a loaded 9-millimeter pistol recovered at the scene may not have fired because its safety was still on, McCall said.
“If the safety had been released off the weapon, there’s a possibility we might have been talking about more than one death,” McCall told reporters Tuesday.
According to a timeline released by McCall on Tuesday, police were called to the scene at 11:11 p.m. for an alleged theft at a Mobil gas station, and an officer arrived at 11:14 p.m. The officer confronted Martin, who officials say matched the description of the suspect. One minute later, the officer reported shots fired.
Paramedics arrived six minutes later and began performing CPR; by 11:28 p.m. Martin had been declared dead.
Authorities have not provided any details about the alleged theft, including what Martin allegedly stole.
A man who was with Martin at the time of the shooting confirmed to police that Martin had pointed the gun at the officer, police said. McCall said “several witnesses” interviewed also corroborated the account, which was captured at a distance on the gas station’s surveillance video.
Police say the video shows Martin raising his arm at police.
The officer, who has not been identified, had a dash camera in his car and a body camera, but neither was activated, officials said. He remains on paid administrative leave, said Mayor Theodore Hoskins, who added that “he needs professional help.”
St. Louis County police are conducting their own investigation of the shooting, the Associated Press reports. Results in that probe have not been released.
Dozens of people gathered at the Mobil station in Berkeley, which shares a border with Ferguson, to protest for two days after the shooting, leading to eight arrests and leaving four officers with injuries, police said.
But city officials, many of whom are black, have tried to distance the shooting from the August shooting death of Michael Brown, which brought weeks of demonstrations and several days of rioting to Ferguson, and other high-profile deaths of black men in recent weeks, including Eric Garner in New York and Tamir Rice in Ohio.
“There is no reason for the protesters to continue in the city of Berkeley unless they will not accept the fact that Mr. Martin drew his gun first,” Hoskins said Tuesday. The results of the investigation were released a day after several dozen protesters swarmed Berkeley streets, shutting down a highway briefly.
“That is not going to be acceptable from this day forward,” Hoskins said.
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