Berkeley, Mo. Mayor: Can't Compare To Ferguson

Following the officer-involved shooting in Berkeley, Missouri, on Tuesday night, which left an 18-year-old African-American man dead, tensions between police and residents of the greater St. Louis area have escalated. But Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said in a press conference Wednesday morning that the Berkeley shooting "was not like Ferguson," assuring his residents that there will be transparency and "the truth" throughout the investigation.

During Wednesday's press conference, Hoskins addressed the differences between Berkeley and Ferguson — mainly, the ways in which the two St. Louis suburbs function. While Ferguson is a predominantly black town with a white mayor, a white police chief and a mostly white police force, Hoskins, who's African-American, said Berkeley has the benefit of having a Black mayor and a Black police chief. "We're different than Ferguson," Hoskins said.

And Tuesday night's tragic shooting at a gas station just a few miles down the road from Ferguson also differed in many ways. "As we say, 'black lives matters.' This [shooting] was not the case," Hoskins said, adding that it appeared the deceased, 18-year-old Antonio Martin, was pointing a gun at the police officer.

The mayor said he understood the tension, the suspicion, and the anger coming from Berkeley's African-American residents. "We all said the same thing [on Tuesday night]," Hoskins said. "A white policeman killing a black man. When does this stop?"

But Hoskins wouldn't give in when an animated audience member tried pressing the mayor, saying Tuesday night's shooting was racially charged. "Truly you don't believe every black man killed is because of a white police officer," Hoskins told the man.

The mayor continued:

Some people die because the policeman initiated. Some people die because they initiated it. And at this point, our review indicates that the police did not initiate this, like Ferguson.

"This was not an incident where the police is saying he felt threatened," Hoskins dded. "That’s not what he’s [the officer] saying." Hoskins said that while the "results are a black person got killed," he's not going to jump to conclusions before an investigation is completed.

The Berkeley mayor reassured everyone that the surveillance video, which has been released to the public, will be used in the investigation. In the end, Hoskins said, he would like to deliver "the truth" to Berkeley residents.

Although a video will be used in the upcoming investigation, it may not be enough to appease residents — Hoskins said on Wednesday that the police officer involved in the shooting did not have his body camera activated, even though he had been given one. However, Hoskins said he wasn't concerned by the officer's failure to use the body camera, because the devices are still "relatively new" to the Berkeley police force.

"It would've been helpful, and in the future and when we get well trained, there will be a severe penalty for an officer who does not turn it on," Hoskins told reporters. But in this case, the gas station's surveillance video will suffice, he added.

Image: screenshot/KSDK News