Thousands protest over Alton Sterling’s death as new video shows cops pinning him to ground

Several thousand protesters took to the streets tonight in protest at the fatal police shooting of street seller Alton Sterling – just hours after a graphic new video emerged showing the moment cops pinned him to the ground and pulled the trigger.

The graphic footage shows Sterling being thrown to the ground by cops Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II after they received a complaint about a man making threats with a gun while selling CDs outside a store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The cops are seen yelling at Sterling to ‘get on the ground’ – but he does not – before he is tackled by the officers.

As Sterling continues to move on the ground, the officer believed to be Lake reaches for his gun and then points it at the father-of-five’s chest.

One of the officers then yells: ‘He’s got a gun! Gun! You f****** move and I swear to God.’

Less than two seconds later, the first shot is heard, followed quickly by another two as the startled store owner turns the camera away from the gruesome scene. Three more shots are heard as the clip ends.

As Sterling lies on the ground with blood seeping from his chest, one of the officers leans over and grabs what appears to be a gun from the street seller’s pocket.

It is not clear whether Sterling was reaching for his gun, but he was not holding it at the time he was shot.

CCTV footage from the store is also believed to exist, however it has reportedly been seized by police – further infuriating protesters calling for justice.

It also emerged that Lake has been suspended before, also following the shooting of a black man.

Protest: Thousands marched outside the store where Sterling was shot dead by police, calling for justice for the black street seller

Emotional: Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt, was struggling to cope with her grief as thousands took to the streets for the vigil

A new video has emerged, showing another angle of the police shooting of Alton Sterling early on Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge officers stayed away and let Wednesday night’s demonstration go unchecked, despite huge traffic jams building up around the area as demonstrators spilled onto the streets.

Some held placards calling police ‘murderers’ and pleading for justice after Mr Sterling’s death was captured on two cell phones.

Others held hands and prayed as pleas for calm protest were repeatedly made.

Sandra Sterling, Alton’s aunt, was seen struggling to cope as she was joined by thousands of people demanding justice for her slain nephew.

One demonstrator Ashley Jones, 31, waved a placard and said: ‘ I have got an ll-year-old son and I don’t want him to have to live his life feeling scared the police might shoot him.’

Her friend Gigi Granger, 32, added: ‘ We drove two hours to get here and we felt we had to be here to make our voices heard.

‘I have got a son who is just seven. He will grow up to be a proud black man and I want him to live his life freely.

‘The police are scaring us with their hysteria and killing of young black men, when they should be protecting us.’

Not a single police officer attended the protest and vigil in memory of Mr Sterling, a father-of-five, who was tazered and shot by police as they bundled him to the ground.

The decision by police to stay away was seen as a cautionary move as uniformed presence was felt might have led to violent outbursts.

Two videos showing Mr. Sterling’s last momengs were captured by onlookers.

One was shot by Abdul Muflahi, owner of the Triple S Food Mart, and he was praised by speakers for coming forward with his key evidence.

One speaker said: ‘He could have chosen to stay in the background and said, like many of us might have, that he hadn’t seen anything.’

She said he had shown that Alton Sterling was murdered and he needed ‘to be thanked for that.’

Queen Bennett, 34, who knew the shooting victim, said: ‘He was a regular guy, always friendly and just trying to feed his family.

‘I would buy his CDs and DVDs from him and he would sell them for $5 for three. They were copies.

‘All he wanted to do was feed his family and for them to be proud of him. He was trying his best. He didn’t deserve to die like that.

‘The video shows the police were on top of him and they had no reason to pump him with bullets.’

Supporters painted a huge mural of the shooting victim on the side of the grocery store with permission of the owner.

The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.

Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a statement: ‘The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy and my prayers are with his family, including his five children.

‘From Staten Island to Baltimore, Ferguson to Baton Rouge, too many African American families mourn the loss of a loved one from a police-involved incident.

‘Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that out country doesn’t consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin.’

Civil Rights campaigner Rev. Jesses Jackson Tweeted: ‘ The force was excessive. It was unnecessary and it was deadly.’

The pressure group Black Lives Matter said it would be organizing several protests in the coming days and mobilizing protest at the ‘latest murder by police of an innocent black man’.

Protesters from the Black Lives Matter group joined locals outside the Triple S store in Baton Rouge as they chanted and held up placards

Muflahi’s video offers a clearer picture of Salamoni and Lake as one straddled and the other pinned Sterling to the ground before shots were fired.

Another video, shot from a nearby car, is more blurry but captures the horror as customers watch Sterling get shot.

Muflahi told NBC News that Sterling – who he called a friend – was ‘murdered’ by police.

‘He just wanted to know what was going on. Why are they coming to arrest him? He was asking them: “What’d I do wrong? What’s going on? What’d I do wrong? Why you messing with me?”

‘I don’t think there was any way that he would’ve reached for [his gun],’ Muflahi said. ‘And if he would’ve reached for it, his hand would’ve still been in his pocket, or the gun would’ve been in his hand after they had killed him.’

The store owner 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 New York Daily News that Sterling, who he 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.

Police told The Advocate that the officers were wearing body cameras during the shooting but the recording devices apparently came loose during the incident.

Both Salamoni and Lake have been put on administrative leave as the fatal shooting is investigated. On Wednesday, a Department of Justice spokesman announced that the agency would be looking into whether the two police officers violated any civil liberties.

Lake, a three-year-veteran of the force, was previously put on administrative leave for his involvement in another police shooting of a black man in December 2014, but later reinstated to the force.

Sterling’s death has caused widespread protests in Baton Rouge, and adds to the long list of police-involved shootings sweeping the nation – including the other high-profile cases of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Source: The DailyMail – Read More

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