Update: Alton Sterling’s son urged Americans to come together after a week full of shooting deaths, including that of his father, in a powerful public statement on Wednesday. “I feel that people in general, no matter what the race is, should come together as one united family. There should be no more arguments, disagreements, violence, crimes,” Cameron Sterling, 15, said at a press conference in Baton Rouge, LA. “My father was a good man.”
Update July 11, 11:10 p.m.: According to an affidavit filed by a Baton Rouge detective for a search warrant, officers apparently observed Alton Sterling reaching for the gun in his front pocket before shooting and killing him. The Washington Post reports that though the report's details are spare, they provide the first police account of their motivation for shooting and killing Sterling. So far, authorities have remained silent on the killing, citing the Department of Justice's investigation. Both videos of the incident have shown Sterling restrained on the ground prior to his death.
Update July 7, 10:30 p.m.: The Alton Sterling case took a twist today as a Daily Beast investigation revealed that police confiscated surveillance video without warrant or permission. Triple S Mart owner Abdullah Muflahi’s attorney told the website that the police took a hard drive containing surveillance footage showing the lead-up and aftermath of Baton Rouge Police Department Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake shooting and killing Alton Sterling. “All that’s left of the storage unit [in which the hard drive was kept] is a sole barren wire,” the Daily Beast writes. “That wire went out to surveillance cameras on the front of the building. One of the cameras would have had a direct line of sight to where Sterling was standing when he was tasered, tackled, shot and killed by police.” Muflahi was able to record cell phone video and was immediately detained by police in the back of the squad car following the pair of officers tasering, tackling, shooting, and killing Alton Sterling. Police department lawyers initially attempted to deny the Daily Beast access to a warrant before admitting none had been issued. They now claim the footage is with the FBI. The agency will not confirm that statement. Muflahi’s lawyer is drafting a motion to have the hard drive returned without alterations.
This story was originally published on July 6, 2016, at 5:15 p.m.
Update: A new video of the Alton Sterling shooting, which appears to show both of Sterling’s hands empty, was released to The Daily Beast on Wednesday afternoon.
The video, which is extremely graphic, shows the moments before and after Sterling was shot, and at least the first of several gunshots. After the shots, Sterling is seen with both of his hands apparently empty as an officer pulls an object from Sterling’s pocket. It is unclear what the object is in the video, but witness Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the store, told The Advocate that the officer removed a handgun from Sterling’s pocket after the shooting. Louisiana is an open-carry state.
A Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman said that, though the officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, were wearing body cameras, the footage may not be useful because the cameras were dislodged during the altercation. The New York Times reported that officials also have dashboard camera footage and surveillance video of the incident, as well as the bystander videos which have been released publicly. This story was originally published on July 6, 2016, at 12:05 p.m.
A graphic video of a Black man shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, LA, is causing outrage across the country. Alton Sterling, 37, was shot by police outside a convenience store early on Tuesday morning. A graphic cell phone video of the incident shows two police officers wrestling a man in a red shirt to the ground in front of a parked car. A moment later, someone yells, “He’s got a gun!” One of the officers pulls what appears to be a weapon from a holster and points it at the man on the ground. A moment later, shots are heard as the camera points away. A woman’s voice asks, “They shot him?” and another woman, crying, answers, “Yeah.” A statement from the Baton Rouge Police Department said that officers had responded to a disturbance report from a caller who said that a man selling CDs had threatened him with a gun. The statement confirmed that Sterling had died at the scene, and said that two police officers have been placed on administrative leave after the incident. A preliminary autopsy found that Sterling died of "multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back," East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William "Beau" Clark, MD, told CNN. Several hundred protesters gathered outside the convenience store where Sterling was shot on Tuesday night, stopping traffic and lighting fireworks, according to The Times-Picayune. Demonstrators connected the shooting and subsequent protest with the Black Lives Matter movement, which brought attention to the deaths of young Black men and women like Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown. “We may not be where Trayvon [Martin] and Freddie Gray are from, but we bleed the same color,” one protester told the paper. “Now they’ve touched our city.” On social media, people shared their outrage at the shooting.
Sterling is the 122nd Black person to be shot and killed by police in America so far in 2016, according to information compiled by The Washington Post. While Black deaths comprise 24% of those killed, only about 13% of the general American population identified as Black or African American in 2015. In a press conference on Wednesday morning, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that an investigation into Sterling’s death would be led by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, assisted by the FBI and the Middle District of Louisiana’s U.S. attorney’s office. “I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially, and professionally,” he said. He said that he had seen the video of Sterling’s death and was troubled by it. “I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing, to say the least.”