The police shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is once again sparking outrage over the death of a Black man by police.
Mr. Sterling, who was the father of 5 children, was fatally shot by responding police while he was allegedly selling CDs outside of the convenience store.
The gruesome altercation was captured on a witness’s cellphone and the video is rapidly circulating around the Internet. The video appears to show Alton Sterling being shot while pinned to the ground by two police officers.
The shooting was confirmed by the Baton Rouge Police Department, who said their officers were responding to a caller that alleged they were threatened by a Black male wearing a red shirt, that had a gun. The responding officers said they “made contact” with Sterling outside the store and an altercation ensued. The official police statement said, “Sterling was shot during the altercation and died at the scene.” The two officers involved in the shooting have been place on administrative leave, as the police department investigates the shooting.
According to the East Baton Rouge Coroner, Dr. William Clark, Mr. Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to his back and chest. The coroner refused to confirm reports that Alton Sterling was shot 7 times. Cornell Brooks, the president of the NAACP said the video is hard to watch but it’s “far harder” to ignore. In the video, you can hear “get on the ground, get on the ground” as the two officers confront a man wearing a red T-shirt. The man is then tackled, thrown on the hood of a car, and then thrown to the ground. While on the ground, the second officer climbs onto Mr. Sterling and helps to hold him down. One officer yells out, “He’s got a gun! Gun!”
As Alton Sterling is on the ground, one officer draws his gun and places it either to Sterling’s head or neck, and then two shots are heard. As the camera abruptly turns away, another two shots can be heard. In the background, you can hear voices saying, “oh my God” and “They shot him?” and “They killed this boy.” The victim’s sister said “something needs to be done. There’s no reason for you to handle him the way that you did. It wasn’t right.”
A Louisiana State Representative, Ted James, called the shooting a “murder” in a statement. He also went on to say, the shooting “has made me question what it really means to be land of the free and home of the brave.” Representative James has called for an independent investigation, and has asked for the police department’s body-camera policy to be reviewed because the officers’ body cameras had supposedly fallen off during the altercation. In a prepared statement, US Congressman Cedric Richmond, said “The video footage released today of the shooting of Alton Sterling … was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community. I share in this anger and join the community in the pursuit of justice.” Congressman Richmond has asked the US Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the shooting death of Alton Sterling, and has asked that all protest and demonstrations be done “with dignity.” As protesters started to gather outside the convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot, the chants of “black lives matter” could be heard and car horns blared as protesters held signs reading “Honk for justice.”
#AltonSterling was trending on Twitter amid the mounting outrage.