Graphic cell phone footage shows Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five, being restrained by two police officers before being shot in his chest outside a Triple S Food Mart on North Foster Drive in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Police reportedly responded to a call that claimed the man was carrying a gun, threatening customers, and selling CDs outside the store. Abdullah Muflahi, owner of the mini-mart, told WBRZ officers tased Sterling to try and subdue him, but he “appeared unfazed.” The cop then shot Sterling four to six times.
“I don’t think it was handled correctly at all,” Muflahi said. “It could have been handled, the situation, better than it did.”
Muflahi claimed Sterling was armed but did not reach for his weapon during the struggle. Sterling, who was known in the neighborhood as “the CD man,” started carrying a gun after a friend of his was robbed, Muflahi added.
The officers were reportedly placed on administrative leave.
The incident, reminiscent of the killing of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and other Black men killed by police, is already tinged with the sentiment that the cops will not be disciplined. Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards recently signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill — a measure that names public safety workers as a protected class under a hate crime — into law. Many see it as another layer of protection for cops who are often not indicted or held accountable in police-involved shootings.
The shooting has sparked protests in the streets of Baton Rouge, where residents called for justice and transparency and chanted, “Black lives matter.”
“Pretty much everybody who knows him knows he’s a sweet person,” the victim’s sister, Mignon Chambers, told CNN affiliate WVLA. “It wasn’t right, and something needs to be done,” she said of his killing.
Mayor Kip Holden, in a conversation with WBRZ, insisted that a “full and fair investigation” will be conducted.
NewsOne.com’s Christina Coleman contributed to this report.