NEW DELHI: The mayor of the St Louis suburb where a white police officer shot dead a black teenager on Tuesday night, said that the case cannot be compared to that of Michael Brown -- an unarmed African-American teen who was shot dead by a white police officer in the nearby suburb of Ferguson.

Brown along with Eric Garner’s (who, also unarmed was choked to death by a white police officer) deaths, and the subsequent grand jury decisions to not indict the police officers involved, have brought to the fore years of marginalisation and discrimination, culminating in massive protests across cities in the United States.

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

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

Hoskins also noted that unlike Ferguson, a majority of police officers in Berkeley were black. "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."

St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, describing the incident, said that a police officer was responding to a call about a theft when he saw Martin and another man at a petrol station and approached them. The officer “responded with what he thought was commensurate force at the time" by firing three shots” after Martin pulled out and pointed a gun.

"This individual [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, Belmar said, but police have released CCTV footage of the incident.

A lawyer for the officer, Brian Millikan, said, "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.”

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

Nonetheless, the incident has sparked off protests.

Footage from the scene can be seen here:

Images reportedly from the scene were also posted.

Social media has responded angrily to the incident. The hashtags that were popularised over the police killings and subsequent grand-jury decisions to not indict the officers involved, including #BlackLivesMatter, made a reappearance.

Earlier this month, protesters took the streets in cities across the US to over the death of Eric Garner, who was killed in an apparent chokehold by a white New York police officer. The protests began after a grand jury decided not to press charges and followed similar protests over a grand jury’s decision to not indict a white police officer who shot to death an unarmed African American teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, St. Louis -- very close to where Martin was shot.

In November, police in Cleveland, Ohio, shot dead a twelve-year old African-American boy waving around what turned out to be a toy gun at a playground. In October, protesters took to the streets of South St. Louis following the fatal shooting of an African-American man by an off duty police officer.

Other incidents that have grabbed headlines have included 17-year old unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighbourhood watch captain. The shooter was eventually acquitted of murder in a racially charged case.

Other parallels have been drawn as well. The killing of 17-year old Jordan Davis, who was, along with his friends, shot at by a man for playing “loud music.” The jury convicted the shooter on four counts, but not on the count of murder, with many attributing the verdict to a racial context -- the shooter being white and the teenagers, including Davis who died, being black.

These incidents have brought to the surface years of frustration at a system where black men are far more likely to be shot at than their white American counterparts.

The most apparent parallel however, are the Los Angeles riots of 1992 -- where the trigger was the brutal police beating of Rodney King, which was videotaped and widely covered but ended in the acquittal of the officers concerned. These recent protests, much like the LA riots of 1992, may have been a reaction to an immediate trigger, but are located in a far broader context of marginalisation and discrimination.