The shooting death of an armed 18-year-old in downtown St. Louis Tuesday cannot be compared to that of Michael Brown, according to the mayor of Berkeley, Missouri.
Antonio Martin, 18, was shot and killed by police outside of a Berkeley Mobil gas station earlier this week and while the incident has fueled civil unrest, Mayor Theodore Hoskins said it's different to other high profile cases (Brown and Eric Garner) because the teenager was armed. He confirmed that Martin was captured on CCTV surveillance pointing a loaded handgun at an officer before he was fatally shot.
"You couldn't even compare this with Ferguson or the Garner case in New York," Hoskins said. "The video shows that the deceased pointed a gun ... at the officer."
The incident sparked fresh protests in St Louis, which has seen daily demonstrations since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown, an 18-year-old African-American who was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson after he committed a strong-arm robbery at a QuikTrip convenience store and engaged in a physical struggle with Wilson in an attempt to take the officer's gun.
Activists are frustrated over the use of deadly force by police, however, it's still unclear whether the Martin shooting was in any way connected to Ferguson protests.
Hoskins, who is black, pointed out that in Berkeley more than half of the police officers are black, unlike in Ferguson. According to him, they are more sensitive to ongoing racial unrest in the area.
"The mayor is black. The city manager is black. The finance director is black. The police chief is black. Our police officers are more sensitive," he said, adding that the officer who shot Martin three times "responded with what he thought was commensurate force at the time."
Martin was among four people shot by police on Tuesday, the three others survived and are listed as being in critical condition.
"This individual [Mr Martin] could have complied with the officer; he could have run away; he could have dropped the gun. Things did not have to end with him approaching an officer with a 9-mm pistol in his hand," Hoskins asserted.
In New York, the Garner case added to racial unrest, and tensions were heightened earlier this month after a Staten Island police officer was not indicted by a grand jury for his chokehold death. The controversial case resulted in the introduction of police body cameras but critics remain skeptical that the new legislation will be effective.
The officer who shot Martin was strapped with a body camera but it was not switched on. Fortunately, the incident was captured on surveillance at the gas station.
St. Louis city and county officials will each conduct independent investigations.
"Our overall goal is to project the truth to residents," the mayor said.
A prayer vigil was held for Martin on Christmas Eve at the place where he was fatally shot after dozens of protesters marched on Interstate 170, shutting it down.
On Christmas Day, an estimated 75 people staged a peaceful protest at Cathedral Basilica where they were met by police in riot gear.
The Christian Post contacted Cathedral Basilica for comment but staff could not be reached at the time of this publication.