Here's Everything We Know About the Police-Involved Shooting Death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge

Human Rights

This article was originally published at Revelist.

Protests erupted overnight in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after two police officers fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old unarmed Black man in the early morning of July 6. Video surfaced of the two white officers pinning Sterling down and firing multiple shots, which led to an overnight gathering of hundreds of protestors, according to the Times-Picayune.

The officers were responding to "a disturbance call from a complainant who stated that a Black male who was selling music cd’s and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun," according to a statement from the office of police chief Carl Dabadie. His office did not respond to Revelist's request for comment.

The officers shot and killed Sterling after pinning him to the ground around 12:35 am at Baton Rouge's Triple S Food Mart, located on North Foster Drive, according to the police chief's statement.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office told Baton Rouge's CBS affiliate station that the victim suffered multiple shots to the chest and back.

The officers were immediately placed on administrative leave. WAFB, the CBS affiliate station, reported that both officers were wearing body cameras, but claimed the cameras were knocked astray during a struggle.

"We have video from the store, we're going to get with the store owners, get their video," corporal L'Jean McKneely of the Baton Rouge Police Department told WAFB. "We have dash cam, I believe the officer had a body camera. I'm not 100% sure."

Sterling, the shooting victim, is a father of five, according to MS News Now, a Baton Rouge affiliate.

Neighborhood locals referred to him as "The CD Man," since he often sold CDs outside of stores, like the one where police officers killed him.

His 15-year-old son, Cameron Sterling, broke down in tears during a press conference his family held on July 6. Cameron's mother, Quinyetta McMillan, said she's "now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father."

"The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis," McMillan said, according to ABC News. He "simply tried to earn a living to take care of his children."

Kimberly Lang, a Baton Rouge resident, told the Times-Picayune that she often purchased CDs from Sterling, and that he never used violence.

"If he's out here at 12:30 at night selling CDs, he ain't rich," Lang said. "He's hustling. Getting money. Ain't nothing wrong with hustling."

Other members of Sterling's family joined the July 6 press conference as well.

One relative said the police "unjustly" handled the 37-year-old victim, and "killed [him] without regard for the lives that he helped raise."

Abdul Maflahi owns the store where Sterling sold CDs, and witnessed the shooting. He told WAFB that officers confronted the victim and used a taser before shooting him.

"God bless his soul. It could've, it could have, it could have been handled differently. Much differently. On both sides it could have been handled differently," Muflahi said.

Many activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens agree, and are expressing as much on Twitter, where the victim's name has been trending for hours.

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards said in a press conference that he has "some serious concerns" about the shooting.

"The video is disturbing to say the least," he said.

Baton Rouge's House of Representatives member Ted James, is calling for an independent investigation.

Congressman Cedric Richmond wants Barack Obama to open a federal investigation into the shooting — and they did.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced their investigation into Sterling's death Wednesday morning, according to NBC News

Even with the Department of Justice's involvement, many still don't think it will make a difference after the killers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and others were acquitted of wrongdoing.

Hope is especially dismal in Louisiana, a state that recently passed a "Blue Lives Matter" bill, which classifies violence against police officer as a hate crime.

CNN reports that if a defendant is convicted of a hate crime against a police officer in Louisiana, they can face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Louisiana state representative Lance Harris sponsored House Bill 953 to protect police officers after Darren Goforth, a Texas sheriff's deputy, was fatally killed. 

"It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn't like police officers, like a hate crime," Harris told CNN. "In the news, you see a lot of people terrorizing and threatening police officers on social media just due to the fact that they are policemen. Now, this (new law) protects police and first responders under the hate crime law."

Seventeen cops have been killed so far in 2016. Cops have killed 558 citizens in 2016, and it's only July.

Alton Sterling is the latest name on the list.

Trigger warning: This video shows the shooting death of Alton Sterling.

This article was originally published at Revelist.

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