UPDATE: 1 p.m. ET July 6, 2016
The Baton Rouge Police Department has identified the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling as Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II. Both officers, who work in the Uniform Patrol Division, were placed on administrative leave Tuesday morning. Lake has been with the department for three years, and Salamoni, four years.
In a press conference, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. urged anyone with information, photos or video of the shooting to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He also said, “I’m not resigning. I’m not retiring.”
UPDATE: 11:27 a.m. ET July 6, 2016
The U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division will be the lead agency investigating the shooting of Alton Sterling, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference Wednesday morning. The U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI and state police also will be involved.
Edwards called cellphone video of the incident “very disturbing.”
A Black man was shot and killed point blank by police officers in Baton Rouge, La., yesterday, and a video captured by a bystander has gone viral, prompting protests and outrage across the country.
The video shows Alton Sterling, 37, being taken to the ground by two officers. As Sterling is pinned to the ground, one of the officers yells, “He’s got a gun!” Then the otherofficer yells, “You f—–g move, I swear to God.” After that, a series of gunshots is heard.Sterling died at the scene.
Abdul Muflahi, the owner of the convenience store where the incident took place, said Sterling did not have a gun drawn when he was shot but that police later pulled one out of his pocket.”[Sterling’s] hand was nowhere [near] his pocket,” Muflahi told The Advocate.”They were really aggressive with him from the start.”
View the video (Warning graphic content):
New cellphone video surfaced Wednesday afternoon, which clearly shows Sterling was not holding a gun in his hand when killed by police. (WARNING: The video is extremely graphic.)
Sterling was selling CDs outside of Triple S Food Mart. A statement from the Baton Rouge Police Department said the shooting occurred around 12:35 a.m. Tuesday. Officers were called to the scene responding to a complainant that stated “a Black male who was selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun,” according to the BRPD. The department said after officers confronted Sterling in the parking lot an altercation ensued.
According to WAFB, Muflahi, who knew Sterling well, said one officer used a Taser on Sterling, and a second officer tackled him. Then the first officer fired shots, Muflahi said.
He also told CNN that he didn’t see a prior confrontation between Sterling and anyone that night. In addition, he was not aware of any incident that someone would have called about.
“Just five minutes before,” Muflahisaid, “he walked into the store getting something to drink, joking around, [and we were] calling each other names.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office released thatSterling died of multiple gun shot wounds to the chest and back. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure, while an investigation takes place. The officers were wearing body cameras but did not capture the shooting as the cameras fell off during the struggle, according to State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, who was briefed by police.
The shootingsparked overnight protests outside the store. Demonstrators chanted, “Black lives matter” and”Hands up don’t shoot.”
On Wednesday morning, Sterling’s family gave a press conference together with Michael McClanahan, president of the local chapter of the NAACP and other community leaders, calling for transparency and for the mayor and chief of police to be fired.
“What we’re going to do is root out the 1 percent of bad police officers that go around being the judge, the jury and execution of innocent people, period, but more specifically, innocent Black lives,”McClanahan said.”I’m calling on anybody in this city with a backbone to arrest the two officers.Let [them] be arrested and be charged with capital murder.”
An attorney for Sterling’s family, Edmond Jordan, is calling for the investigation to be taken out of the hands of the Baton Rouge police and handed over to the Louisiana State Police. And, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond has called on the Justice Department to investigate Sterling’s death.
Quinyetta McMillan, themother of Sterling’s 15-year-old son, also spoke during the press conference:
#AltonSterlingis trending on Twitter.Rev. Jesse Jackson sent out the following tweet this morning:
Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) July 6, 2016
The Washington Post’syearlong tracking projectfound that in 2015 police shot and killed 986 people. Blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites when adjusted for the populations where the shootings occurred. Black men made up nearly 40 percent of those who were killed while unarmed, although they represent about 6 percent of the U.S. population.
The Post has found thatso far this year almost 500 Americans have been killed by police officers.
Last week, actor and activist Jesse Williams used his BET Awards acceptance speech to support the Black Lives Matter movement and highlight racial disparities in regard to police-related deaths.
“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day,” Williams said. “So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.”
The #BlackLivesMatter movementwas created in 2012 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The hashtag was used on social media as a call to action after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death ofTrayvon Martin.
Some on social media are comparing Sterling toEric Garner,who wasstopped for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, put into a department-prohibited chokehold by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo and taken down to the ground, where he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”
A dash cam video has also captured the violent arrest of Sandra Bland, and the arrest of a 16-year-old Black girl at a high school in South Carolina, in which she was flipped over in her desk, was caught on cellphone video.