Only a few days into July and yet another police shooting of a Black man has gone viral after innocent bystanders caught video of two Baton Rouge police officers shooting 37-year-old Alton Sterling to his death for allegedly threatening someone with a gun outside of a local store.
It’s happened again.
Chilling cell phone video surfaced Tuesday of two Louisiana cops killing a 37-year-old man selling music outside a Baton Rouge convenience store after an anonymous caller claimed he had a gun.
The police gunfire sparked impassioned protests that continued past midnight outside the store — 24 hours after authorities shot Alton Sterling during a fatal 12:35 a.m. encounter. More than 100 demonstrators shouting “no justice, no peace” clogged the street, setting off fireworks and blocking an intersection to protest Sterling’s death.
The grim 48-second cell phone video of the killing outside Triple S Food Mart shows two police officers tackling and wrestling a heavy-set man in a red shirt against the hood of a car before throwing him to the pavement.
“He’s got a gun,” one officer cries while the pair pinned Sterling to the ground.
“You f—–g move, I swear to God,” the other cop yells, before the two draw their weapons. The terrified bystander turns the camera phone away as five shots ring out — two of which a coroner said struck Sterling in the chest and back.
“They shot him?” a man’s startled voice says in the video. “Yes,” a woman replies between sobs. Officers responded to the store about 12:35 a.m. Tuesday after an anonymous caller said a man selling CDs and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun, said Baton Rouge Cpl. L’Jean McKneely.
Officers responded to the store about 12:35 a.m. Tuesday after an anonymous caller said a man selling CDs and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun, said Baton Rouge Cpl. L’Jean McKneely.
In Louisiana, gun owners are allowed to carry weapons without a permit as long as they’re over 18 and not felons.
It’s unclear how Sterling obtained the weapon. His rap sheet dates back two decades with several drug, firearm, theft and assault arrests. He was sentenced to five years in prison for marijuana and weapon possession in 2009, the Advocate reported.
The owner of the store had no knowledge of an argument outside his store that led to the initial 911 call.
He later saw officers pull a gun from Sterling’s pocket after the shooting and acknowledged Sterling bought the firearm days earlier for protection after learning other disc sellers in the region had been robbed.
“He was screaming, ‘What did I do,’ ‘What’s going on,” Triple S Food Mart owner and witness Abdullah Muflahi told the Daily News.
Police confiscated the store’s surveillance footage that Muflahi said would have captured every second of the violent death outside his store.
Muflahi watched police kill Sterling, a father of three children and his friend of six years, he said. Sterling died steps from where he allowed him to peddle music daily.
“His hand was not in his pocket, nor did he have the gun in his hand,” he said, defending Sterling’s final moments.
“While he was laying there dying, the cop went inside his pocket to pull the gun out.”
Police have not confirmed whether Sterling was in possession of a gun.
“I think they really handled it the wrong way,” Muflahi added.
The officers were wearing body cams during the shooting, but the recording devices apparently came loose and were dangling from their chests during the incident, Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely told the Advocate, a Baton Rouge newspaper.
At least one dashcam caught the killing on tape.
Sterling’s death at the hands of police comes almost two years after Staten Island resident Eric Garner died after being placed in a police chokehold.
Garner, 43 and black, was allegedly selling loose cigarettes on July 17, 2014, when white cop Daniel Pantaleo put the asthmatic man in a banned chokehold and he died after saying he could not breathe. The sickening takedown was captured on video obtained exclusively by the Daily News.
The death of Garner and other black men in police custody has given rise to protests around the country, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Baton Rouge police officials said two uniformed officers involved were placed on administrative leave following the killing, which is standard procedure in shootings.
“It just didn’t make sense for someone to become so angry that’s suppose to protect our lives and take this young man’s life,” Vereta Lee, a family friend of Sterling’s, told WAFB. “It just doesn’t make sense.”