Alton Sterling was gunned down by Baton Rouge police officers outside of a convenience store last week, where he was allegedly selling CD’s.
Cell phone video of the incident surfaced showing that Sterling was pinned down on the ground when officers opened fire.
Police were called to the Triple S Food mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where they confronted 37 year-old Alton Sterling who was reportedly selling CD’s outside the store. The caller alleged Sterling had a handgun and was acting aggressively.
The short cell phone video shows one officer tackling Sterling onto the hood of a car then onto the pavement. It does not show that Sterling was putting up much if any resistance. Officers often interpret the difficulty in manipulating and handcuffing large subjects as resistance, which appears to be the case here. One of the officers yells “gun” The other officer can then be seen pulling his firearm and putting it up against the already restrained Sterling. A few seconds later shots are fired and Alton Sterling was dead.
To add suspicion to the incident, both officers, identified as Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake Jr, had their body cams “fall off” during the incident.
Baton Rouge’s Police Chief Carl Dabadie attempted to get ahead of any large scale protesting that is bound to occur. “We ask for your voluntary compliance to our laws and peaceful assembly with any gatherings that may be planned,” Dabadie said. “We encourage you to plan and protest … we don’t have any problems with that. We just ask you to do it peacefully, and that no one gets hurt.”
City officials are justifiably nervous as police actions have incited incidents of rioting and looting to cities like Ferguson and Baltimore. Baton Rouge is not looking to take on the massive amount of attention that this shooting will bring to it. Protesters have been gathering at the Triple S convenience store and City Hall throughout the week, and thankfully, there have been no reports of violence.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told reporters that the U.S. Department of Justice civil rights division would be handling the investigation. Edwards had what he called “serious concerns” after watching the now viral video of the shooting. Even the District Attorney has agreed to step aside in this case, pending the outcome of the DOJ investigation. So far, it appears that the state of Louisiana is making a valid attempt to do the right thing and maintain a level of transparency. We will have to wait and see if that transparency holds up in the future.