US: Tensions rising after black man killed by police

7th Jul 2016
US: Tensions rising after black man killed by police

NEW YORK (AA) – The governor of Louisiana said Wednesday that he has “very serious concerns” about the fatal shooting of a black man by police in Baton Rouge that has set off civil rights protests in the city.

John Bel Edwards promised an independent investigation and said the Justice Department would be involved, indicating the nationwide repercussions of the shooting.

“There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that this incident is going to be investigated impartially and thoroughly,” he said.

Alton Sterling, who sold CDs outside a convenience store, was shot dead early Tuesday after an altercation with two white police officers in the store’s parking lot.

The death was a “horrible tragedy,” Police Chief Carl Dabadie told reporters Wednesday.

“Like you, I am demanding answers,” Dabadie said, adding that there was “a lot we do not understand” while he promised a “thorough, just, transparent, independent investigation” that would be led by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office.

According to police, two officers, who were later named as Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, four and three-year veterans, respectively, and both white, were dispatched after receiving a report of an armed man in in front of the store.

A graphic video captured on a mobile phone from a car in the parking lot and spread online, showed the officers pinning down Sterling and shooting him from close range despite having wrestled him to the ground and appearing to be in control of the situation.

It was not immediately clear whether Sterling had a gun, but Abdullah Muflahi, who owns the store and witnessed the shooting told reporters that Sterling did not reach into his pocket nor did he “have the gun in his hand” at the time he was shot.

Both officers have been put on paid administrative leave.

In a press conference early Wednesday, Edmond Jordan, a Louisiana state representative and Sterling family attorney, said it was “irrelevant” whether Sterling was in possession of a weapon because he wasn’t wielding one while pinned down.

Another mobile phone video provided to The Daily Beast news site by store owner Muflahi appears to show Sterling was not holding a gun when he was shot.

The 38-second video, which captures the scene from a different angle, shows one of the officers yelling “he’s got a gun”, and then two gunshots are heard. A moment later, three more shorts are heard and the cell phone camera pans to reveal a horrific scene.

Sterling is seen lying flat on his back on the ground and bleeding from the chest, still able to move his arms and head, moving the left one toward his face. One of the officers approaches Sterling and removes an object from the victim’s right pants pocket. The angle doesn’t show a weapon, but the officer takes out the object and holds it from a handle similar to that of a pistol.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William Clark told heavy.com Wednesday that an autopsy revealed that Sterling was shot multiple times in the chest and back.

According to various media reports, Baton Rouge police told district congresswoman Denise Marcelle that both officers wore body cameras, but there was no footage because the devices fell off during the struggle.

Quinyetta McMillan, the mother of Sterling’s 15-year-old son, said police acted “unjustly” by killing a man who “simply tried to earn a living and take care of his children”.

Sterling’s son sobbed loudly and broke down before being escorted away from the podium as a visibly distressed McMillan vowed she “will not rest” until justice is served.

A protest was held Tuesday near the site of the shooting and demonstrators filled Sterling’s CD table with flowers and sympathy messages.

“We have a wound but we will heal and become whole again,” said Mayor Kip Holden, defending the official institutions in the city including the police department.

The head of the city’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP, a national civil rights organization, demanded the resignations of the police chief and mayor.

A vigil is planned Wednesday night, as officials are on edge about protests that could erupt into widespread violence, similar to scenes recently played out in the wake of the killings of unarmed black men by police including teenager Michael Brown, 25-year-old Freddie Gray and Eric Garner.

While demonstrators take to the streets to protest Sterling’s shooting, professional athletes have voiced their outrage on social media.

NFL wide receiver Jalen Strong tweeted: “No justice in America. What is Independence Day? Definitely means nothing to black people”

And quarterback Colin Kaepernick called the shooting a “lynching” on Twitter.

“This is what lynchings look like in 2016! Another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable? or did he fear for his life as he executed this man?”

NBA point guard Jeremy Lin also weighed in. “Foreal though wth?!? The ‪#AltonSterling video makes me sick…its gettin out of control!! ‪#blacklivesmatter ‪#thisworldneedsprayer”
Author Canberk Yüksel

 

[US Sea of Louisiana Great Seal re-drawn into SVG by odder for public domain]

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