Wednesday, 6 July 2016
Alton Sterling Shooting by Baton Rouge Police Sparks Outrage, Protests
Police fatally shot a black father of five outside a convenience store in Louisiana in a chilling incident apparently captured on cellphone video.
Graphic footage circulating online which was filmed by a witness appears to show Alton Sterling, 37, being shot as he is pinned to the ground. It has sparked outrage and protests.
The Baton Rouge Police Department said uniformed officers responded to a call early Tuesday about a black male in a red shirt who was selling CDs and had reportedly threatened the caller with a gun.
Officers "made contact" with Sterling in the parking lot of the Triple S Food Mart and an altercation ensued, police said in a statement.
"Sterling was shot during the altercation and died at the scene," the statement said.
Two officers have been placed on administration leave "per standard procedure," it added, saying the investigation was ongoing.
Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, according to East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. William Clark. He would not immediately confirm reports that Sterling was shot seven times.
The president of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks, called video of the incident hard to watch — but "far harder" to ignore.
"Get on the ground, get on the ground" is heard before two officers confront a man in a red T-shirt. One officer tackles the man, throwing him on the hood of the car and onto the ground. The second officer climbs on and helps hold him down.
One officer appears to shout a warning: "He's got a gun! Gun!"
While the man is on the ground one officer pulls out his gun. He holds it the back of the man's head or neck, shouting is heard, and then two pops — as the camera quickly cuts away. At least two more pops are heard.
Background voices are heard saying "oh my God" and "They shot him?" and "They killed this boy."
"Oh my God," a woman's voice shrieks.
Sterling's sister, Mignon Chambers, said something "needs to be done" in wake of the shooting.
"There's no reason for you to handle him the way that you did," she said. "It wasn't right."
State Rep. Ted James called the shooting a "murder," saying in a statement it "has made me question what it really means to be land of the free and home of the brave."
He demanded an independent investigation and scrutiny of the police department's body-camera policy. Local media reported that the officers' body cameras had fallen off.
Congressman Cedric Richmond cited "a number of unanswered questions" around the "tragedy" — including the level of force and response of officers after.
"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," Richmond said in a statement. "I share in this anger and join the community in the pursuit of justice.
He called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation — and for protests to be conducted "with dignity."
Protesters gathered outside the convenience store overnight, chanting "black lives matter" and holding signs saying "Honk for justice" as car horns blared.
#AltonSterling was trending on Twitter amid the mounting outrage.
Martin Luther King's youngest daughter, Bernie King, was among those adding her voice.
"May his name and his brutal last breath shake up and transform systems," she wrote on Twitter.