Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have turned over the investigation of the shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, the city’s police chief told reporters Wednesday.
“It is our goal and our mission to make sure that a thorough, just, transparent and independent investigation be conducted into this incident,” Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said.Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. vowed authorities would conduct a transparent and independent investigation into the shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling.“Like you, there is a lot that we do not understand, and at this point, like you, I am demanding answers,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “Like you all, my prayers are with this community, and especially with the family and loved ones of Mr. Sterling, and all the members of the Baton Rouge Police Department.”
The 48-second video appears to be cell phone footage recorded by a witness inside a nearby car.It begins with the camera facing a car dashboard. A single pop is heard. Then someone yells, “Get on the ground.”Another pop follows.The camera then pans up to two officers confronting a man in a red shirt. The man is Sterling, according to his family’s attorney.An officer pulls him over the hood of a silver car and pins him to the ground. Once he’s down, the officer begins to assist a second officer in restraining Sterling.Seconds later, someone shouts, “He’s got a gun.”An officer can be seen drawing something from his waist and pointing it at the man on the ground.More yelling follows, though it’s hard to make out what’s being said. Then there are two more bangs.The witnesses inside the car shout and swear. Three more bangs go off. A woman in the car starts crying.
Sterling was known as the “CD man,” a laid-back guy who would sell tunes and DVDs outside the convenience store where he was shot, according to local media.“Alton was a respected man. He was beloved in the community. He did not deserve the treatment and this excessive force that was exerted on him by the police department,” Jordan, his attorney, told CNN.Now Sterling’s family is “grieving and mourning for an unnecessary loss of life,” the attorney said.“Alton was out there selling CDs, trying to make a living. He was doing it with the permission of the store owner, so he wasn’t trespassing or anything like that. He wasn’t involved in any criminal conduct,” Jordan said.Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the Triple S Food Mart, told CNN he’s known Sterling for six years.Muflahi let him sell CDs in front of the store. He said Sterling never got into fights.Muflahi said he saw the officers slam Sterling on a car.“They told him not to move,” he said. “He was asking them what he did wrong.”He said the officers then used a stun gun on Sterling at least once before shooting.Both got on top of him, and one ordered him not to move.The one closest to Sterling’s legs yelled “gun,” and the shots followed.After the shooting, Muflahi said an officer reached into Sterling’s pocket and pulled out a gun.When it was over, Muflahi said he heard the officers talking on the scene, saying they had been called there due to a complaint that Sterling had pulled a gun on someone.But Muflahi said he never saw a confrontation between Sterling and anyone. And he wasn’t aware of any incident about which someone would have called.“Just five minutes before,” Muflahi said, “he walked into the store getting something to drink, joking around, (and we were) calling each other names.”