UPDATE Wednesday July 6, 2016 at 6:59 p.m. ET
The Daily Beast has posted a second, more graphic cell phone video of the moments immediately before and after Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake pinned Alton Sterling to the ground and fatally shot him in the chest. The video, provided to the site by Triple S Food Mart owner Abduallah Muflahi, shows one the officers pulling a gun out of Sterling’s pocket after the fatal gunshots. During these critical seconds, Sterling is alive—he slowly moves one of his arms. But he reportedly died before paramedics arrived. Salamoni and Lakehave been placed on paid administrative leave as federal authorities investigate the shooting. According to The Advocate, District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III said that in interviews before the United States Department of Justice took over the investigation, both offcers said they felt "completely justified” in the shooting.
The nation is still reeling over graphic video of Baton Rouge police fatally shooting Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black father who was selling CDs outside of a convenience store.
Bystander video of the shooting is unclear and audio only at times. But footage published by NOLA.com (and posted below) appears to show two yet-unnamed Baton Rouge police officers yelling "get on the ground" twice before throwing Sterling over the hood of a car, pinning him down on the ground, trying to restrain one of his hands and shooting him after someone yells, "He’s got a gun!" Audio also captures someone saying, "You fucking move, I swear to God…" before the shots rang out. The parish coroner confirmed that Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Baton Rouge police corporal L’Jean McNeely told the Associated Press, in a report published today, that police were responding to an anonymous caller who claimed that a man wearing a red shirt and selling CDs threatened him with a gun.
Abdullah Muflahi, owner of store where Alton Sterling killed in BR, describes seeing shooting by officer pic.twitter.com/08ABnQwr6a
— Maya Lau (@mayalau) July 5, 2016
Abdullah Muflahi, the reported owner of the store, described his view of the shooting in a video published by The Advocate and featured in the above tweet by reporter Maya Lau. He said that an officer initially used a taser on Sterling before the other tackled him, bringing him to the ground. "They were really aggressive with him from the start," said Muflahi to The Advocate. Muflahi added that Sterling did not have a gun in his hand during the altercation, but that police removed a gun from his pocket after the shooting. As of yesterday, police could not confirm or deny Muflahi’s account of the events.
The cell phone video surfaced yesterday during protests in Baton Rouge that began at a Triple S Food Mart and continued well into the night. The Times-Picayune reported a crowd of hundreds demanding justice during an impromptu gathering not interrupted or subdued by police. "You see it so much around the country, and you see it so much on TV, but for it to happen right here in your own back yard, it’s just like, wow," said one local activist to WAFB. Flowers and messages began to populate the table where Sterling sold CDs.
State Representative C. Denise Marcelle told WAFB after a police briefing that the involved officers were wearing body cameras that fell off during the altercation and did not capture the shooting. She said that store surveillance and police dashcam footage did show the shooting.
In a press conference this morning, Sterling’s 15-year-old son wept loudly as his mother, Quinyetta McMillan, spoke. "The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis," said McMillan. Family attorney Edmond Jordan called for state investigators to take over the investigation into Sterling’s killing. Local NAACP leader Mike McClanahan also spoke during the press conference, calling for Baton Rouge Chief of Police Carl Dabadie Jr. to step down or be fired.
The shooting sparked national outrage, with #AltonSterling trending on Twitter this morning:
Black peoples have to face trauma like this, then go be around our oppressors like nothing happened. #AltonSterling
— Capt. Jake Ballard (@kidnoble) July 6, 2016
People don’t deserve public executions on streets of their community. Regardless of race, gender, age, past criminal record. #AltonSterling
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) July 6, 2016
You don’t speak on "black on black" crime until someone is killed by the police. We see you. #AltonSterling
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 6, 2016
New York Daily News journalist and activist Shaun King called for an end to his conflicts with other activists a post of his own:
Please consider and share.
Trying to rise above division in the wake #AltonSterling https://t.co/nxL8euSjuh pic.twitter.com/7eqVQw4vYN
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 6, 2016
We will update with more details from the police press conference later today.