A video surfaced yesterday of two Baton Rouge police officers physically restraining a Black man named Alton Sterling, who was selling CDs outside a convenience store. They tased him, forced him to the ground, and shot him at point-blank range. He died at the scene. The New Orleans Advocate reports that the local coroner said a preliminary autopsy indicated Sterling died due to a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back.
The officers claim that Sterling had a gun, but, if he did, it appears it remained in his pocket while he was killed. And Louisiana is a conceal carry state.
As has been the case dozens of times before, witnesses to the shooting fundamentally contradict the immediate police account of the killing. The two officers involved “have been put on paid administrative leave, though it’s believed that only one fired his weapon. …The officers were wearing body cameras, but they came loose during the incident and were dangling from their uniforms.”
It’s important the video exists, even though watching it may be upsetting for people who are reeling from another deadly incident of police violence against a Black person.
My condolences to Sterling’s family, friends, and immediate community—and to my Black sisters and brothers who may once again be left feeling unsafe and devalued by our communities and our country. I take up space in solidarity with people who are angry and people who are grieving. I am angry and grieving, too.
Alton Sterling was a human being who did not deserve to be killed by police. No matter what anyone tries to say about him, or about the cop(s) who killed him, that will always be true.