Overnight, a police officer shot and killed a teenager outside a gas station in Berkeley, Mo. just west of Ferguson. I almost never write about breaking news anymore. Usually when some sort of tragic event happens, the information in the first hours or days turns out to be totally wrong. But today, I’ll make an exception to reference how the story is being told at the outset.
Video added below. Updates added below.
The first report I saw appeared at the Daily Mail website so I’ll reference story. If I have time, I’ll look at the Yahoo link Drudge Report and the St. Louis Dispatch stories that are also available. From the Daily Mail.
A black teenager has been shot dead by a police officer at a gas station only a few miles from where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri.
The victim, who has been named by his mother as Antonio Martin, 18, was killed at a Mobil gas station on North Hanley Road at about 1am.
Yes, they refer to the teens race and they of course reference the justified shooting of Brown by Darren Wilson in the first sentence of the story.
Police claimed that an officer approached the gas station during a ‘routine business check’ and saw two men outside. They say Martin drew a gun on the officer, who, ‘fearing for his life’, fired several shots in response. They said a firearm found at the scene belonged to the deceased.
If that’s the way it happened, the shooting is justified.
Sergeant Brian Schellman said more information would be released at a press conference at 7am, and that authorities would soon release footage showing ‘the gentleman raise a handgun and the officer fire a shot’. He added that the officer only pulled his gun when one of the two people outside the gas station pulled out a weapon.
So law enforcement say they will release the video footage? Good. Now, let’s see what “witnesses” and family members are saying.
According to the St Louis Post Dispatch, Mrs [Toni] Martin said her son was walking with his girlfriend to the store when police arrived. She claims that he was shot dead as he ‘was trying to get up and run’.
So he was running away when he was shot in the back? Let’s se what the video says. [Update, total lie. See the video.]
‘He was a good young man. He was 18. He was trying to get his life back together. We were trying to get him back in school and stuff.’
She denied that her son was armed. ‘He had no gun,’ she added.
He was a good young man… He was trying to get his life back together… The “he was turning his life around” bull is getting really old. [Update: Again, total lie. You can see he’s pointing what certainly looks to be a gun at the cop.]
The media – by publishing hearsay from the mother (he was running away… he had no gun) – is complicit in any criminal activity that may result from publishing context that she’s made up from thin air. So, let’s take a look at the St. Louis Dispatch story.
Toni Martin said her son was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting. The girlfriend remained at the scene but declined to talk to a reporter.
Smart move by the girlfriend. She’s going to let other people make up stories and lie about the shooting. And it sounds like a few troublemaker protesters showed up after the shooting to make things worse.
At one point, as some of the protesters grew rowdy, explosive flashes were set off. It was unclear by who.
Also, a QuikTrip store near the Mobil station was damaged by vandals before police officers closed access to it.
So, what did the observers say?
Mike Smith, 30, was among those who came to the shooting scene. …
“This is ridiculous, man,” Smith said of Martin’s shooting. “After the first one this sh– should have stopped. My only question is: what exactly did he do to be killed?”
Maybe Mr. Smith should avoid jumping to conclusions, assuming the cop just walked up and shot this kid? Maybe he should have just stayed home and waited to see how the story unfolds? Nope, Smith had to go there and make things more difficult for everyone involved.
Someone else who came to the Mobil after the shooting was the Rev. Starsky Wilson, one of the co-chairmen of the Ferguson Commission set up by Gov. Jay Nixon to look into the social and economic issues at play in north St. Louis County.
“Black. Young person shot by a police officer,” Wilson said, describing it as a familiar narrative.
It’s not at all a familiar narrative. That’s a total fabrication. Has the “Reverend” made even one statement to the media at the scene of a black-on-black violent crime?
“When you see police escalate, you see violence,” Wilson said.
Another total lie. How exactly did law enforcement “escalate” the situation the night of the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson? Then we have Darien Gatewood, who also felt he had to inject himself into the scene last night.
“Somebody just lost their son before Christmas,” Gatewood said. “This is a present from law enforcement.”
Gatewood spoke in a calm voice as he watched the crowd at the scene, which had dwindled to about a dozen by 4:30 a.m.
He added: “Honestly no one out here respects the police. That’s the feeling we have.”
I’m just not sure what to say. I understand Smith, Gatewood and Rev. Wilson had little or no access to media coverage as they were standing there at the scene, but certainly someone must have gotten them the message Martin pulled out a gun and shot at the cops?
The AP story that was published at Yahoo! was updated just before 8 a.m. ET.
A suburban St. Louis police officer shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at him at a gas station, police said.
Right from the start, the AP got the first paragraph correct. No speculation. No mention of race. No mention of Ferguson. To be honest, I’m not sure how the first AP release started, but at least in this version they waited until the end of the second paragraph to mention Michael Brown.
The video up to the point of the actual shooting was released by St. Louis County Police this morning at about 8 a.m. ET.
Update: Original reports avoided mention of the crowd’s action at the scene. I just saw a brief video clip that can only be described as “chaos about to happen.” Law enforcement was totally on the defensive.
Update: When you watch the video, you’ll note there is about 60 seconds of what seems to be normal, calm conversation between the cop and the two males he is speaking with. After walking away a few steps, the shooter (Martin) turns around, takes two steps towards the officer – who has moved slowly forward – and pulls out the gun pointing it directly at the officer less than 10 feet away. Up to this point, the officer showed complete restraint. If Martin pulled the trigger and shot – there are no reports he got a shot off – I can not see how the cop would have not been shot.