BREAKING: Protests Erupt After 18 Year Old Antonio Martin Shot and Killed By St. Louis County Police Last Night

December 24th 2014

ATTN: Staff

18 year-old Antonio Martin was shot and killed by a St. Louis County Police Officer in Berkeley, Missouri shortly before midnight last night.

The police officer was on a routine business check when he saw and approached two people at a Mobil gas station. The first has been identified as Antonio Martin, the second person fled the scene after the shooting and has not yet been identified.

According to St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar, Martin pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officer, who Belmar described as a 34 year-old white officer with 6 years of police force experience. The officer responded with the fatal shots. Police say they have recovered Martin's gun at the scene.

Hundreds of protestors including Martin's mother gathered at the Mobil station. 

Protestors say police left Martin's body lying on the pavement for several hours and there are reports that protestors were pepper-sprayed.

Surveillance footage from the gas station has been released:

More photos from the scene in Missouri:

The Antonio Martin incident comes on the heels of the recent high profile police killings of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Mike Brown. 

As Attn: has previously reported, federal standards permit officers to use deadly force if they have “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm…to the officer or to others.” But in light of recent cases, that definition has been called firmly into question as has the shoot to kill—not disable—mentality that’s become all too apparent. 

The findings of a 21-month federal investigation of Cleveland’s police force revealed that officers’ use of excessive force was not only indicative of systemic, patterned behavior, but also sanctioned by supervisors in some cases. 

A 2005 study from Florida State University also found that white police officers "were statistically more likely to let armed white suspects slip while shooting unarmed black suspects." 

Another study from the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder revealed that in video simulation, white participants would shoot an armed target more quickly if the target was African American than if he was white. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Justice Statistics, black drivers are twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested during a traffic stop. 

In Ferguson, Missouri, last year, for instance, African Americans were subject to 86% of all stops, 92% of all searches, and 93% of all arrests, despite living in a city that is roughly 60 percent black. Despite these disproportionate arrest statistics, white drivers were significantly more likely to have contraband on them.

What all of this points to is a culture of unequal treatment by police, unhealthily proactive deadly force, and a burning need for reassessment. 

The National Black Police Association suggests that diversifying police forces from top to bottom is the best way to enhance racial sensitivity and prevent cases like Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. As we learned in Ferguson, Missouri, there were only three black officers on their 53-member force.

President Obama also recently asked Congress to subsidize body cameras for police departments in hopes that recorded encounters might curb abuses, and while in some cases that is a likely outcome, Eric Garner’s death belies this notion.

There's also a preventative aspect to body cameras. If police and civilians are aware that the interaction is on camera, some data indicates they are more likely to apply restraint. After the Rialto, California's police department added body cameras in February 2012, complaints against police officers dropped by 88%, and police use of force decreased by 60%.