St Louis County Police Kills Armed Black Man, Violent Protests Erupt
Berkeley, MO – Violent protests broke out Tuesday night after a suburban St. Louis police officer shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at him at a gas station, police said.
Scuffles broke out early Wednesday between police officers and a vocal crowd of several hundred people who taunted the officers at the scene. One officer was injured after he was stuck with a brick and police reported several small explosives being used by protesters. There were four arrests.
Berkeley is just a few miles from Ferguson, where a white police officer fatally shot black 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. The suspect on Wednesday was also 18.
Authorities have not released any information about the identity or ethnicity of the man killed but The St. Louis Dispatch reported that the victim’s name as Antonio Martin. Fox2Now.com obtained surveillance video from the scene.
According to a statement from St. Louis County police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schellman, a Berkeley police officer was conducting a routine business check at a gas station around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday when he approached two men.
One of the men pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer, Schellman said. The officer fired several shots, fatally wounding the man. The second man fled, and the dead man’s handgun has been recovered, according to Schellman. The St. Louis County Police Department is searching for the second man.
Toni Martin, who identified the suspect as her son, told the newspaper that he was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting.
The protesters who gathered early Wednesday milled around the gas pumps at the station, some yelling at police officers. Some wore strands of yellow police-line tape draped around their neck, with others using it as a headband. Authorities from multiple agencies, some in riot gear, stood among the protesters.
Across the street, the glass doors of a convenience store were shattered, one of the doors left hanging from a single hinge. Police stood guard, turning people away.
The crowd dispersed but police officers remained at the scene as dawn approached.
Orlando Brown, 36, of nearby St. Charles was among the protesters. He said he didn’t have all the details about the shooting but said he wondered if it was a case of police aggression.
“I understand police officers have a job and have an obligation to go home to their families at the end of the night,” he said. “But do you have to treat every situation with lethal force? … It’s not a racial issue, or black or white. It’s wrong or right.”
Brown said he was pepper-sprayed during the protest as police tried to separate him from a friend whose hand he was holding. He said his friend was arrested for failing to disperse. The shooting sparked a protest of 200 to 300 people, authorities said.
Brown’s death led to weeks of protests and some looting in the St. Louis area, actions that were renewed last month when a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing.
“We had several bricks thrown at officers,” St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar said. There were reports of explosives used and one officer was injured after getting hit by a brick. Four protesters were arrested.