A white Louisiana police officer shot and killed a black man following a confrontation outside a Baton Rouge convenience store, authorities said.
The altercation, which played out in the early hours of Tuesday, was captured on video shortly after the officers had pinned Alton Sterling to the ground.
Shocking footage – taken from inside a car just a yard away – shows Sterling being wrestled and thrown on to the ground by officers who then hold him down as he attempts to struggle.
Taser shots can be heard and the officers push Sterling’s head down on to the concrete after shouting: ‘He’s got a gun.’
One officer then appears to draw what looks like a gun and points it at Sterling’s head.
Within seconds gun shots are heard, the woman filming screams and the man next to her shouts ‘Oh shit!’, as more shots are heard.
The screen then goes black and a woman begins hysterically crying as the man asks her: ‘They shot him? Oh my f***ing goodness.’
‘They killed him! Oh my god!’ wails the woman, while someone in the background simply says ‘why’.
An autopsy shows Sterling, 37, of Baton Rouge, died Tuesday of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, said East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William Clark.
Officers responded to the store about 12:35 a.m. Tuesday after an anonymous caller indicated a man selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely.
Two officers responded and had some type of altercation with the man and one officer fatally shot the suspect, McKneely said. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard department policy, he said.
A protest was held just hours after the fatal shooting, with crowds gathering at the site of the incident and shouting: ‘Black lives matter.’
The Advocate reported a crowd of people protesting the shooting gathered late Tuesday afternoon at the store where it took place.
The group grew to over 200 people, who chanted ‘black lives matter’ and ‘hands up don’t shoot’ and waved signs late into the night
Sandra Sterling, an aunt who raised Alton Sterling after his mother died, speaks on the phone, while family and friends of his protest in the parking lot of the Triple S Food Store
The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, told WAFB-TV that the first officer used a Taser on Sterling and the second officer tackled the man. Muflahi said as Sterling fought to get the officer off of him, the first officer shot him ‘four to six times.’
The owner said Sterling did not have a gun in his hand at the time but he saw officers remove a gun from Sterling’s pocket after the shooting.
Muflahi told the Daily News that Sterling, who has been friends with for six years, bought the firearm days earlier to protect himself after hearing CD sellers had been robbed close by.
‘His hand was not in his pocket, nor did he have the gun in his hand,’ he said.
David Solomon, 60, and Calvin Wilson, 56, told The Advocate they lived with Sterling at the Living Waters Outreach Ministry Drop-In Center, and don’t believe he carried a gun.
David Solomon, 60, left, and Calvin Wilson, 56, right, say they lived with Alton Sterling at the Living Waters Outreach Ministry Drop-In Center, and don’t believe he carried a gun
Sterling was sentenced to five years in jail for marijuana and weapon possession in 2009 and has reportedly been arrested several times over the past two decades.
Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely told The Advocate that the officers were wearing body cameras during the shooting but the recording devices apparently came loose during the incident.
U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat who represents Baton Rouge, said the video footage ‘was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community’.
‘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,’ he said.
Congressman Richmond called the US Department of Justice to conduct a full and transparent investigation into this incident.
‘His family and the citizens of Baton Rouge – especially the citizens of North Baton Rouge – deserve answers and that is what we will seek in a fair, thorough, and transparent way,’ he said.