BATON ROUGE, La. – A disturbing scene caught on camera: an African-American man shot to death by two white police officers early Tuesday morning outside a neighborhood store in Baton Rouge.
“I was actually maybe two or three feet away when it happened,” Triple S Market store owner Abdul Muflahi.
A witness says an officer tased the suspect– Alton Sterling– before tackling him to the ground.
During the confrontation, one officer seemed to yell “gun!” and then an officer drew his weapon and fatally shot Sterling at point-blank range.
The store owner claims the officers later pulled a gun from Sterling’s pants-pocket.
“My brother didn’t deserve it,” Sterling’s sister Mignon Chambers said. “He didn’t deserve it at all.”
Sterling’s family says he was only trying to make a living to support his kids.
“As some may know, Alton sold CDs and was doing just that– not bothering anyone– and had the consent of the store owners as well,” Quinyetta McMillon, mother of Sterling’s 15-year-old son, explained.
But police say they were called to the scene because of a reported threat from Sterling. The 911 police dispatcher reports a suspect “selling CDs on the corner. Gun in his pocket. He pulled the gun on the complainant and told him he couldn’t be around there.”
Sterling’s family is devastated.
“As a mother, I have now been forced to raise a son, who is going to remember what happened to his father, that I can’t take away from him,” McMillon wept.
Video of the shooting sparked protests overnight. Street protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot! Hands up, don’t shoot!”
TMZ Sports reports NBA star Glen “Big Baby” Davis knew Sterling, and said, “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Now Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards says the US Department of Justice will step in.
“I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially, and professionally,” the governor declared.
City officials are desperately trying to calm the public over the highly emotional shooting by two veteran officers.
“Both officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. announced.
Mayor Kip Holden told the public “it’s very, very important that you understand, we are doing our best to make sure we get all the answers.”
But residents are outraged and boiling mad!
“It’s like a keg of dynamite waiting to blow up,” community activist Silky Slim proclaimed. “People are willing to put more blood on the street even if it’s their own blood to make sure that Justice is not overlooked here.”
As the investigation continues, perhaps the closest eyewitness to the incident summed it up best.
“God bless his soul,” Muflahi said. “It could have been handled differently, much differently. On both sides, it could have been handled differently.”