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Police Chief: Missouri Teen Antonio Martin Drew Weapon First at Officer

Martin, 18, was fatally shot by police on Dec. 23 at a Berkeley gas station. Evidence shows he was armed, and tried to fire first, investigators say.

The black Missouri teenager fatally shot during a confrontation with a white officer last week was armed and attempted to fire his weapon first, officials said at a news conference Tuesday. In publicly reviewing the events in Berkeley — about five miles from where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police — officials are attempting to quell outrage over the case.

Berkeley leaders have called for calm after demonstrators shut down a freeway near the gas station parking lot where 18-year-old Antonio Martin was killed Dec. 23. "There is no reason for the protesters to continue in the city of Berkeley unless they will not accept the fact that Mr. Martin drew his gun first," Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins told reporters.

Police said they reviewed surveillance footage and several witness statements to determine Martin was carrying a gun — a fact initially disputed by his family. Police were called to the Mobil station to investigate a shoplifting, and the officer questioned Martin because he matched the suspect’s description, said Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall. "Mr. Martin was armed, Mr. Martin did attempt to fire when he pulled a weapon on the officer," McCall said.

The police chief speculated that the safety on Martin’s loaded pistol was left on, and he was unable to fire his weapon when he took aim at the officer. In response, the officer fired three shots at Martin, investigators said. Hoskins declined to name the officer, but said he is on paid administrative leave.


— Erik Ortiz