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'Bad choices were made': Clashes as police confirm black teenager shot dead near Ferguson

There are conflicting accounts of what happened prior to the shooting in the St Louis suburb of Berkeley.

A BLACK TEENAGER has been fatally shot by police in an area just two miles from Ferguson, Missouri.

The 18-year-old victim, named as Antonio Martin, was shot dead by an officer carrying out a routine business check at a Mobil Gas Station in the St Louis suburb of Berkeley late on Tuesday night.

The incident has sparked protests by around a hundred people who gathered at the scene of the shooting. There is a heavy police presence and there have been clashes with demonstrators, with four arrests made. Police have denied using tear gas.

In a press conference, police chiefs said the officer who shot Martin three times used ‘commensurate’ force during the incident and said a handgun was recovered from the scene. The victim was “known to law enforcement”, police said.

Police chief Jon Belmar said that the victim “produced a pistol with his arm straight out, pointing it straight at the officer kind of from across the hood”.

At that point the officer got his gun and fired “what we think is three shots”. Belmar said that the officer did not have time to fire a Taser at the victim and added: “Bad choices were made”.

Police have released grainy video footage from the moments prior to the shooting. Belmar said that police car was equipped with a dash cam but it was not as the car’s emergency lights were not activated.

The officer who fired the shots, who is 34, was given a body camera by his supervisor earlier in his shift but had not put it on. Belmar said this was the “imperfection of the technology that we have”.

“We’re not used to having it all the time,” he said.

APTOPIX Killings By Police Berkeley Source: AP

Earlier… 

St Louis County police earlier confirmed that an officer shot and killed a man who drew a gun at a gas station. Some witnesses at the scene claimed that no gun was seen.

A police spokesman said the officer was conducting a routine business check at a gas station around 11:15 p.m on Tuesday night (local time) when he saw two men and approached them.

Killings By Police Berkeley Some demonstrators appear to have let off fireworks at the scene of the shooting Source: AP

According to police, one of the men pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer. The officer, fearing for his life, fired several shots, striking and fatally wounding the man.

The second person fled and the deceased man’s handgun has been recovered, police said.

BuzzFeed reporter Jim Dalrymple says police intend to meet this morning to discuss what CCTV footage they have and can release.

The victim’s identity was confirmed by his mother, Toni Martin, who is at the scene and told the St Louis Dispatch that her son was with his girlfriend at the time.

There are conflicting reports from those on the scene as to whether Martin was carrying a gun or pulled a gun before he was shot.

An 18-year-old man named Jesus Christo told Huffington Post via Twitter direct messages that he and Martin were stopped by police, and that Martin repeatedly refused to lay on the ground before the officer opened fire. However Christo has since tweeted:

The hashtag #AntonioMartin is gaining huge traction on Twitter this morning with some of the crowd gathering at the scene of the shooting claiming they’ve been sprayed with mace:

Source: Netta/Vine

This livestream shows crowds gathered with police appearing to form a cordon around parts of the gas station where the shooting occurred.

There were also reports of a small fire at a convenience store across the road:

Killings By Police Berkeley Source: AP

Nearby Ferguson was the scene of the now infamous shooting dead of 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown last August. He was shot multiple times by white police officer Darren Wilson who a grand jury later decided not to prosecute.

The shooting and subsequent grand jury decision sparked riots in Ferguson, nationwide protests and fresh debate about race in the United States.

Demonstrations have also been held in the wake of the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner, a black man, who died while being held down by a white police officer in New York last July. The grand jury also decided against charging the officer in that case.

- additional reporting from Nicky Ryan 

First published 8.45am 

“I can’t breathe”: New York protesters shout Eric Garner’s final words

Read: America’s long history of police riots – the short version

Read: 6 most talked about quotes from that Chris Rock article

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Hugh O'Connell

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