US & Canada

New St Louis shooting 'unlike Ferguson', says mayor

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Media captionMayor Theodore Hoskins: "The deceased pointed a gun at the officer"

The mayor of the St Louis suburb where a white police officer shot dead a black teenager has said the case cannot be compared to that of Michael Brown.

Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said surveillance footage appeared to show 18-year-old Antonio Martin pulling a gun shortly before he was shot.

That distinguished the shooting from that of Mr Brown, who was unarmed, in nearby Ferguson this summer.

Protesters clashed with police on Tuesday night in Berkeley.

On Wednesday, a smaller crowd of protesters gathered at the petrol station where Mr Martin was shot.

Berkeley is about two miles (3km) from the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, where Mr Brown, also 18, was shot dead by a white officer in August.

His death and a subsequent grand jury decision not to charge the officer triggered nationwide protests. There were further protests over the death of Eric Garner, 43, a black man who died while being held down by a white police officer in July in New York.

'Commensurate response'

"You couldn't even compare this with Ferguson or the Garner case in New York," said Mr Hoskins. "The video shows that the deceased pointed a gun... at the officer."

He also noted that the majority of police officers in Berkeley were black, unlike in Ferguson, where where there is a mostly white police force and a mostly black population.

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Media captionPolice have released CCTV footage, as Aleem Maqbool reports

He added: "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."

Mr Hoskins said that both the city and St Louis County would hold independent investigations. "Our overall goal is to project the truth to residents," he added.

St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said a police officer was responding to a call about a theft when he saw Mr Martin and another man at a petrol station in Berkeley and approached them.

He said that after Mr Martin pointed a handgun at the officer, the officer "responded with what he thought was commensurate force at the time" by firing three shots.

"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 9mm pistol in his hand."

The officer was wearing a body camera but it was not switched on, Mr Belmar said.

A lawyer for the officer, Brian Millikan, said his client was lucky to be alive. "I don't know why the guy didn't get a shot off, whether his gun jammed or he couldn't get the safety off," he said.

The handgun said to belong to Mr Martin has been recovered by police.

On Tuesday night Mr Belmar said protesters had thrown bricks at police officers, and set off three explosive devices.

Four people had been arrested for assaulting police officers, he said.

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