Police say officer in Berkeley, Missouri, shooting acted in self-defense

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 30, 2014 2:04 PM

By Mark Guarino

(Reuters) - An 18-year-old man fatally shot by police in Berkeley, Missouri, last week was pointing a gun at an officer, according to a police investigation of the incident.

Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall told a news conference on Tuesday that Antonio Martin "was armed and pointing a weapon at the officer" before he was shot outside a gas station convenience store on Dec. 23.

The killing sparked protests, with demonstrators saying the shooting was unjustified and that race was a factor. Martin was black and the officer is white.

Protesters said the incident was comparable to other controversial police shootings, particularly in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.

McCall said witnesses and a video released to the public last week confirmed that Martin was pointing the weapon. "The officer was in fear for his life and his initial action was to retreat," he said.

The investigation also showed that the safety switch on Martin's semiautomatic pistol was activated, which prevented him from firing. The weapon had one live round in the chamber and five rounds in the magazine, McCall said.

Berkeley Mayor Theodore Haskins said the officer's name has not been released and he remains on administrative leave. 

(Reporting by Mark Guarino in Chicago; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Eric Beech)