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Protests erupt in Baton Rouge after police fatally shoot Black man

By Steph Solis, USA TODAY

Protesters called for more demonstrations Wednesday following a night of unrest over the fatal shooting of a black man by police officers that was caught on video outside a Baton Rouge convenience store.

The two officers have been placed on administrative leave following the incident early Tuesday. The officers have not been identified.

Officers responded to the store about 12:35 a.m. Tuesday after an anonymous caller indicated a man, later identified as Alton Sterling, 37, selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun, Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said.

Two officers responded and some type of altercation with the man ensued. One officer fatally shot the suspect, McKneely said. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard department policy, he said.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who called for the Department of Justice to investigate the killing, said officials claimed both officers had body cameras “but they fell off during the struggle and do not show the shooting.”

The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, told WAFB-TV that the first officer used a stun gun on Sterling and the second officer tackled the man. Muflahi said as Sterling fought to get the officer off him, the first officer shot him “four to six times.”

A 48-second cellphone video of the incident purportedly captured by a bystander shows an officer firing at least one round into a man’s chest followed by the sound of at least four shots as the camera abruptly turns away, The Advocate reported.

“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” one officer yells at the beginning of the video clip.

One officer is seen pulling the man’s left arm down while pressing down on the man’s chest. The man’s right arm is not visible in the video.

“He’s got a gun! Gun!” one officer says, prompting another officer, visible in the video, to draw a weapon and point it down at the man’s chest following by a flash from the gun.

The owner of the store 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.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William “Beau” Clark said the initial results of an autopsy show that Sterling suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, The Advocate reported.

By dawn Wednesday, protesters and friends had created a makeshift memorial to Sterling on the white folding tables and a fold-out chair he had used to sell homemade music compilations on CDs.

Sterling’s aunt, Sandra Sterling, told CNN her nephew was a “gentle giant.”

“There was no justice. He didn’t have a chance. He didn’t have a chance,” she said.

Richmond urged leaders and citizens to join him “in demonstrating our anger with dignity and demanding proper focus on our cause with perseverance.”

“His family and the citizens of Baton Rouge — especially the citizens of North Baton Rouge — deserve answers and that is what we will seek in a fair, thorough and transparent way.”

Residents protested on and off throughout the day and overnight as the video capturing the deadly encounter circulated on social media. Demonstrators chanted, “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.”

Demonstrators blocked the intersection near the convenience store before 10 p.m. CT Tuesday night. They eventually cleared the streets and moved to the sidewalks. They told drivers to anticipate another gathering at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning in front of City Hall.


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