On the Eve of the Christmas holiday, national outrage over the police killing of people of color once again came to a head on Wednesday after news spread that a St. Louis area police officer shot a black teen late Tuesday evening.
According to reports, 18-year-old Antonio Martin was shot just after 11 PM in a Mobil gas station parking lot in the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley, Missouri. The St. Louis County Police Department alleges that the unnamed Berkeley officer, who is reportedly white, fired three shots after Martin drew a handgun.
Surveillance footage released of the incident has drawn much scrutiny. However, both a body camera and police car dashboard camera were reportedly not on to capture the exchange.
Early Tuesday, St. Louis police chief Jon Belmar held a press conference during which he confirmed that no shots were fired by Martin. Belmar said that in this case it was “unreasonable” to expect that the officer taser Martin, but conceded: “bad choices were made.”
Martin’s mother, Toni Martin-Green, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “This doesn’t make any sense for them to kill my son like this.” Martin-Green said initial video provided by police didn’t offer enough information to answer her questions.
After the fatal shooting, roughly 300 protesters gathered at the scene and faced off with a line of police dressed in riot gear, who fired pepper spray.
The shooting occurred just five miles from the community of Ferguson, where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot on August 9 by officer Darren Wilson, spurring months of protests and national outrage over the impunity of law enforcement and the frequent targeting of people of color.
On Wednesday, as activists prepared for continued demonstrations against racial injustice, now focused on shutting down centers of holiday consumerism, news of Martin’s killing spread quickly online with expressions of outrage shared under the hashtag #AntonioMartin.
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The Guardian has ongoing updates as more details of the incident are disclosed and St. Louis Public Radio has a live blog of reactions.