VICE NEWS By Harry Cheadle Posted Wed., July 06, 2016
Just after midnight Tuesday (July 05/06) in a convenience store parking lot, police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shot and killed a 37-year-old man named Alton Sterling while pinning him to the ground.
The incident, captured on a cell phone camera video that has already spread widely across the internet, is just the latest police shooting of a black person to go viral, the latest tragedy spurring activists to demand change locally and nationally, the latest flashpoint in the ongoing national debate over policing and race in America.
In the video, the cops, who were reportedly responding to a 911 caller who said Sterling had threatened him with a gun, can be seen ordering the man to get on the ground. He doesn’t comply, but also doesn’t appear to make any threatening move toward the officers, both of whom are white.
One of the cops tackles Sterling against the hood of the car, and they both restrain him on the ground. One of them then says, “He’s got a gun!” and an officer can be seen drawing his weapon and holding it close to Sterling.
Then the shot is heard.
The person filming the video drops the phone, and a male voice says, “Oh shit!” and, “They shot him? Oh my fucking goodness” while a woman cries and shots continue to ring out.
According to the local coroner, at least two bullets from the cop’s gun struck Sterling in the chest and back.
The store’s owner, Abdullah Muflahi, has known Sterling for years, and claimed to see the whole thing. He told the Advocate, a local paper, that the cops were “aggressive,” adding that he saw the officers initially use a Taser to little or no effect.
He said cops later took a gun from Sterling’s pocket, but also that the deceased wasn’t holding the weapon or trying to retrieve it during the confrontation.
On Wednesday morning, Sterling’s family and community activists gathered for a press conference at city hall. Mike McClanahan, the head of the local chapter of the NAACP, demanded the release of additional videos showing the shooting in more detail, as well as the firing of the police chief, Carl Dabadie Jr., and the resignation of Kip Holden, the mayor of Baton Rouge. He also called for the arrest of the officers responsible.
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