Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was standing in the parking lot outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, selling CDs when police arrived. Police were responding to an emergency call about someone waving a gun and Sterling fit the description of the suspect. A short talk between the police and Sterling quickly escalated into a takedown of Sterling and a shooting that resulted in his death. The incident was recorded on video. Was the shooting justified?
Although officers claim that Sterling had a gun and it was a threat to their safety, video shows no evidence of a gun or any threats by Sterling. It shows the officers pinning Sterling to the ground. Sterling appears to be incapacitated but one of the officers reports, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” Suddenly, Sterling is shot twice in the chest and then four more times. Sterling did not die instantly, you can clearly see his arm moving in the video but was dead by the time emergency first-responders had arrived.
The Daily Beast reports:
“I swear to God if you fucking move!” one of the officers yelled, pointing his gun at Sterling’s chest. “He’s got a gun! Gun!”
Muflahi’s video does not appear to support the officer’s claim that Sterling’s gun represented an active threat: It appears to have been in a pocket and never reached his hand. Instead, the video shows Sterling pinned down, shot twice in the chest, and then shot four more times.
After mortally wounding him, one of the officers removes an object from Sterling’s right pants pocket. (Police during a Wednesday press conference refused to comment on whether Sterling had a gun.)