A 37-year-old black man has been fatally shot by an officer outside a US convenience store, in yet another example of extreme race-related police brutality.
Alton Sterling was reportedly killed on Tuesday (July 5) after being shot multiple times in the chest and back. According to authorities, he had been selling music on the streets of Baton Rouge, before apparently threatening an anonymous passer-by with a gun. Police were called to the scene shortly after.
Graphic footage of the incident – which was filmed by witnesses in a nearby car – has since surfaced online. It shows a man in a red shirt (allegedly Sterling) being held down by two officers after a round of gunfire. “You fucking move, I swear to God,” one of the officers says, prompting the other to pull his own from his holster. Sterling is then shot at point-blank range in the back.
The convenience store owner, Abdullah Muflahi, shared his eyewitness account shortly after the incident. According to him, Sterling did have a gun in his possession – though it remained in his pocket and was not brought out at any time. “They didn't have to shoot him,” he toldThe Advocate. “They could have handled it differently... His hand was nowhere near his pocket (and the police) were really aggressive from the start.”
The reaction to Sterling’s death has understandably sent shockwaves through social media, with #AltonSterling currently trending on Twitter. The shocking brutality of the act also saw 150 Black Lives Matter protestors hit the streets of Louisiana in the early hours of this morning.
Both officers involved in the incident – who are yet to be formally identified – have since been put on paid administrative leave. “We give officers normally a day or so to go home and think about it”, Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman L’Jean McKneely said.