BERKELEY, Mo. -- Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said during a Christmas Eve press conference that a police officer's killing of teenager Antonio Martin Tuesday night shouldn't be compared with police killings of Eric Garner or Michael Brown because Martin aimed a loaded gun at the officer.
Martin, 18, was fatally shot by a white police officer at a gas station less than five miles from Ferguson, where Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson last summer. Gas station surveillance video captured the shooting of Martin by the officer, whose name wasn't released.
“We say ‘black lives matter,’ this was not the case," Hoskins said. "You can’t even compare this with Ferguson or the Garner case in New York. ... We have the video and I can assure you that what’s on the video is what we’re going to use.”
Hoskins said the video shows Martin pointing a gun at the officer, who then runs backward, begins shooting and falls onto his back.
According to Hoskins, the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley and its police force are majority black. “The mayor is black, the city manager is black, the financial director is black. And I believe the police chief is black. In a city that's 85 percent black, we are majority of the police department. That’s how we are different than the city of Ferguson. In addition there was no video in Ferguson. We have video.”
Hoskins offered condolences to Martin’s mother, grandmother and the rest of his family. He also encouraged sympathy for the police officer who shot Martin. “We should all put our arms around the police officer to make sure that he has all the needs and the help to bring him through this," Hoskins said. "So on one hand the family, and on the other hand our police officers.”
The mayor said the city will conduct a separate investigation from the St. Louis County Police Department.
“I can assure you that what happened last night was we had a policeman responding to a call," Hoskins said. "The video shows that Antonio pointed a gun at the officer.”
As Huffington Post reported earlier, the police officer had been issued a body camera, but was not wearing it during the shooting. The dashboard camera on his car was not activated.
The mayor suggested the officer’s backward fall may have been fortunate. “I think the officer’s stumble may have saved his life," Hoskins said, without elaborating. "When he stumbled, he took one shot necessary to end his life.”
Earlier Wednesday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said, "This is a tragedy for everybody. Our hearts certainly go out to the decedent's family. This is also a tragedy for the officer's family. He will carry the weight of this for the rest of his life, certainly for the rest of his career."