Alton Sterling shooting: Second video emerges of police killing black man in Louisiana

Video appears to show police officer taking a gun from Alton Sterling's pocket

Click to follow
The Independent US

New video footage has emerged of the fatal police shooting of a black man in Louisiana, showing one of the officers involved taking what looks like a gun out of Alton Sterling's pocket as the father of five lies dying on the ground.

There have already been demonstrations from protesters shouting “Black Lives matter” after a first video appeared to show two white police officers holding Mr Sterling down and shooting him in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday.

A second video, recorded by a local shopkeeper from a different angle, has now emerged.

It appears to show Mr Sterling, 37, already on the ground, with one police officer kneeling beside him and the other apparently straddling his legs.

After someone shouts the word “gun”, both officers appear to draw their weapons.  At least two shots are fired.

The camera pans away from the scene, but a further burst of gunfire can be heard on the audio.

When the camera pans back, one officer can be seen lying on his side pointing his gun at Mr Sterling, who now has a large pool of blood on his chest.

A passer-by can be heard asking: “What was that for, man?”  A police officer is heard saying: “Shots fired, shots fired.”

As Mr Sterling slowly moves his left arm, the second officer comes into view, removes what appears to be a gun from Mr Sterling’s right trouser pocket, and walks away with it.

The video clip was filmed by Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the convenience store outside which the shooting occurred.  The police officers had been called after reports that a man selling CDs outside the convenience store had threatened someone with a gun.

Mr Muflahi told reporters: “I was just in shock.  They shot him three times, and rolled off of him. Then they shot him three more times.

“That’s his gun they are taking out of his pocket.

“As soon as I finished the video, I put my phone in my pocket. I knew they would take it from me, if they knew I had it. They took my security camera videos. They told me they had a warrant, but didn’t show me one. So I kept this video for myself. Otherwise, what proof do I have?”

Mr Muflahi added that Mr Sterling had been carrying a gun for self-defence.

He said: "He started carrying a weapon a couple of days ago after a couple of his friends that also sell CDs at different locations were robbed."

Sharida Sterling, a cousin who said she had grown up with Mr Sterling and regarded him as a brother, insisted it was not in his character to fight the police. 

She said: “He would have never fought the police, he wouldn’t have pulled a gun, he would have been too scared.”

US news media published details of what appeared to be Mr Sterling’s criminal record, with documents suggesting that a man of the same name and age was a registered sex offender, who had been convicted of carnal knowledge of a 15-year-old juvenile in 2000.

The documents also appeared to show that Mr Sterling had convictions for domestic abuse battery, unauthorised entry of a home, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, and carrying a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance.

Some reports claimed Mr Sterling had previously been accused of involvement in a tussle with a police officer during which a gun fell from his waistband.  The police officer apparently claimed that Mr Sterling had resisted arrest when he tried to search him during the 2009 incident.

There was anger, however, among some of Mr Sterling’s supporters that information about his alleged criminal history seemed to have emerged before the names and records of the officers involved in Tuesday’s fatal shooting.

Amid increasing fury at the number of black men dying in confrontations with the police, especially after the shooting of Philandro Castile in Minnesota a day after Mr Sterling's death, US Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton entered the debate over Mr Sterling’s death, saying: “Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn’t consider them as precious as others because of the colour of their skin.”

In her statement, Ms Clinton added: “The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family, including his five children. From Staten Island to Baltimore, Ferguson to Baton Rouge, too many African American families mourn the loss of a loved one from a police-involved incident.”

Welcoming the fact that the US Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into the incident, Ms Clinton said: “I am glad the Department of Justice has agreed to a thorough review. 

“Incidents like this have undermined the trust between police departments and the communities they serve. We need to rebuild that trust. 

“We need to ensure justice is served. That begins with common sense reforms like ending racial profiling, providing better training on de-escalation and implicit bias, and supporting municipalities that refer the investigation and prosecution of police-involved deaths to independent bodies.”

Ms Clinton’s statement came after Cameron Sterling, Mr Sterling's 15-year-old son, broke down in tears at a press conference in connection with his father’s death.

Referring to the first video of the incident, Cameron’s mother Quinyetta McMillon said: “He had to watch this as this was put all over the outlets.  As a mother I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father."

Michael McClanahan, president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People claimed Mr Sterling's death was indicative of a general problem with the "the culture of the Baton Rouge Police Department".

"This incident is one of many," he said.

Police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II have been placed on administrative leave following Mr Sterling’s death. 

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr has said Mr Sterling was armed at the time of the confrontation, but questions still remain about the circumstances surrounding his death.