Alton Sterling Shot By Cops While Pinned to Ground
"When will it stop?" is the tone of public outcry from Baton Rouge and beyond.
Published on July 6, 2016

At a press conference Wednesday, Baton Rouge officials annouced officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling "believe they were completely justified" the district attorney said. 

Protests continue after a graphic video showing the moments leading up to the 37-year-old's death at the hands of police was released. 

In the early morning hours of July 5, Sterling was shot multiple times in the back and chest. The shooting was caught on camera by a nearby witness, a shocking and unjust 48-second video of the police charging at, pinning, then shooting Sterling.

Police officers were responding to a disturbance call that claimed, “a black male who was selling music CD’s and wearing a red shirt threatened me with a gun.”

In the video, the officers are shown tackling Sterling down onto the pavement. One of the officers is shown kneeling upon Sterling's back, brandishing his weapon and telling the apprehended man “if you fucking move, I swear to God!”

Suddenly, two shots were fired. Stunned, the bystander drops the phone, but the audio continues.

An additional three shots ring out, multiple bullets entering Sterling's chest and back, a coroner report later confirmed. 

Sterling, a father of five, was pronounced dead at the scene. The officers, who have not been identified, were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

The owner of the Triple S Food Mart, Abdullah Muflahi, told media he watched the shooting happen from just a few feet away. 

Muflahi says the officers and Sterling were auguing and he was then thrown to the ground and tased. After tasing him, according to Muflahi, Sterling appeared to be unfazed. That's when police fired four to six times.

Muflahi, who was friendly with Sterling said he began carrying a gun after getting mugged in the past.

"I don't think it was handled correctly at all," said Muflahi. 

According to State Representative Denise Marcelle, the officers were wearing body cameras as part of a pilot program, but they fell off during the incident, and therefore do not show the shooting.

Eyewitness footage caused an uproar in the Baton Rouge community and beyond leading a large group of protesters (including Sterling’s family) to gather at the scene of the incident and celebrities and activists taking to social media to express outrage over the deadly and preventable incident.

In a series of tweets after news of Sterling’s death broke, Jesse Williams challenged his followers to “provide a list of infractions punishable by spontaneous public execution.”

Sterling, who was known as "CD Man" among Baton Rouge residents, was spending his recent months living in a shelter while working as a cook, family said.

A convicted felon, Sterling’s criminal record included marijuana possession with intent to distribute and carrying an illegal weapon, among other charges.

Still, he was known as a respectful person by his community. Sterling’s 15-year-old son broke down at a press conference as his mother detailed the media’s mistreatment of his image.

Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat who represents the 2nd District of Louisiana (which includes Baton Rouge) has called for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The video footage released today of the shooting of Alton Sterling by officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department 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. My prayers and thoughts are with Mr. Sterling’s family as they deal with this tragedy.”

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has stated that a thorough investigation would be conducted, but during their recent press conference, Sterling’s family and their attorneys called for both the Baton Rouge Police Chief and the mayor to resign from their positions.

If you can manage to stomach such a saddening event, the video of the shooting can be seen below (WARNING: It is graphic)

Since January, there have been 558 police killings in America and Sterling is the most recent person on that list, according to The Counted. The Counted is a project launched by The Guardian that tracks police killings in America revealing that most victims are people of color.

Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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