Why the officer (and his supervisor) who killed Antonio Martin could be charged with obstruction of justice.
What we know about the officer-involved shooting death of Mr. Antonio Martin is still developing, but surface facts say, according to St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, that a police officer arrived to a Mobil-on-the-run gas station as a response to a larceny call, though Mr. Belmar, at this moment, isn’t sure if the police service call originated from that location.
The officer’s car pulled up as two men, one confirmed as the deceased, and two women – one pushing a stroller – were headed towards its direction, as seen in a grainy surveillance video released this morning.
Mr. Martin walked in the opposite direction of the police cruiser, opting to stand on the store’s concrete apron, however, his associate approaches the cop, stops, and seems to have a dialogue of some sort – the two women stop as well, but quickly continue on their way.
Within a few seconds, Mr. Martin walked towards the passenger side of the police cruiser, by the headlight, while the officer – whose name hasn’t been released –stood near the front tire on the driver’s side. There seemed to be nearly 10 seconds of conversation before Mr. Martin turned to walk away. He took a few steps, turned around, extended his arm and pointed what appears to be a gun in the officer’s direction – that’s where the video stops.
There were more cameras around the store, one right by where the incident took place. However, Chief Belmar said the shooting occurred under the camera’s lens, and it only caught the officer falling backwards after discharging his weapon.
The officer shot off three rounds, one hitting Mr. Martin – in what appears to be a justified shooting – another hitting the police cruiser’s front tire and the last bullet currently unaccounted for.
Antonio Martin, in my opinion, wasn’t racially profiled or even stopped unjustly –there was a reason for the officer to be on scene and question those who were nearby – so I sincerely hope this particular incident – while it does involve a white police officer and a black male suspect – doesn’t result in anti-police brutality protests, because that’s not what happened here.
However, the public does need to take up an issue with the fact that the officer who took Mr. Martin’s life wasn’t wearing his issued body-worn camera. The reason for this neglect in protocol is because it wasn’t handed out during roll call, instead it was handed off later in the shift by his supervisor, like an after lunch peppermint.
Chief Belmar, who alerted the public to this malady, made matters worse by admitting he, too, sometimes “forgets” to wear his body camera.
In an a time where police and community relations are seriously tattered, body worn cameras can – and have – helped agencies strengthen accountability, transparency and the public’s trust. In this instance, it would’ve have done more than just that, it could’ve have given us a clear view of the incidents that preceded and followed Mr. Martin’s tragic death, including the “standard” two hours in which his body laid in the gas station’s parking lot, though an ambulance was said to be called five minutes after the shooting.
Even more than the thrills and frills of being open and honest with the public, body-worn cameras are instrumental in significantly improving how evidence is captured for investigations and court proceedings.
So far, as I can tell with the limited view I have into the situation, the officer was justified in discharging his weapon, so any conversation of him being charged with murder should stop before it starts. However, the negligence of the officer and his supervisor have compromised the investigation by severely altering the physical evidence that could’ve been collected. So at the very least, a conversation regarding charges of obstruction of justice is appropriate.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™