Alton Sterling shooting: Piecing together what happened before the videos

CNN – The 911 call that brought police to a Baton Rouge convenience store Tuesday came from a homeless man, according to a senior law enforcement official. The homeless man had approached Alton Sterling, repeatedly asking him for money, the official said. Sterling showed his gun and the homeless man called police, according to the official. Sterling was later shot by police at the scene.
[Previous story, posted at 5:54 a.m. ET Thursday]
Just 24 hours after his death, much of the United States had heard about the death of Alton Sterling.
Figuring out what led up to those fateful seconds — and what the repercussions, if any, will be — will take much longer.
Federal authorities have taken charge of the investigation into the Tuesday killing of Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who sold CDs and DVDs outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Sterling was shot outside the store after an encounter with two police officers. The officers could be seen in video on top of him before the shots were fired.
Protests began Tuesday afternoon in Baton Rouge and were largely peaceful. Vigils and memorials have spread across the country.
Local civic leaders and Sterling’s loved ones have promised to continue their push to find the truth.
“I, for one, will not rest,” Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of one of Sterling’s children, said Wednesday, “and will not allow y’all to sweep him in the dirt.”
As she spoke, McMillon and Sterling’s 15-year-old son stood by her side, sobbing.
he U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is leading an investigation into what happened. The U.S. attorney’s office in Baton Rouge, the FBI and state police also will be involved in the investigation, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
One of the crucial next steps will be to determine what happened before the confrontation ensued.
Authorities said that the officers were responding to a 911 report of a man with a gun. A source close to the investigation told CNN the witness who called 911 said Sterling was “brandishing a gun.”
Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the Triple S Food Mart, told CNN he wasn’t aware of any incident Tuesday that would have spurred a 911 call.
But he’s sure the shooting was caught on his store’s surveillance cameras, though he hasn’t seen it. Police took the video later Tuesday, he told CNN.
There also is police body camera footage of the shooting — even though the cameras were dislodged — Baton Rouge police Lt. Johnny Dunham told reporters. The cameras continued to record, he added.
Investigators said they’ll review multiple videos of the shooting, and they’re canvassing for witnesses.
Authorities haven’t said what those police videos or other surveillance footage of the scene show, including the lead-up to what the public has already seen or the possible weapon-brandishing incident.
The source involved in the investigation told CNN that the other videos are not nearly as clear as the bystander videos.

Two videos

There are two videos that have publicly surfaced showing Sterling’s killing — one that surfaced early Tuesday, catapulting the case into the national spotlight, and a second, shorter video that is of higher quality and was recorded nearer to the shooting.
The first video posted online Tuesday night quickly sparked local protests and drew national attention.
It begins with the camera facing a car dashboard as the three men stand near the vehicle. A single pop is heard. Then someone yells, “Get on the ground.”
An officer pulls Sterling over the hood of a silver car and pins him to the ground. Once he’s down, the officer begins to assist a second officer in restraining him.
Still frames from the video that appears to show Alton Sterling being shot to death.

Yelling ensues, though it’s hard to make out what’s being said. Then there are two bangs.
The witnesses inside the car shout and swear. Three more bangs go off. A woman in the car starts crying.
The second video shows Sterling already on the ground, on his back. One officer is kneeling to Sterling’s left. The other officer appears to be straddling Sterling’s legs. Sterling can be seen from the chest up and his lower legs are also visible. His left arm and hands are not visible; his right arm is by his side.
After gunshots are heard, the camera pans to the right then back to Sterling, who has a large blood stain on his chest. The officer who was on his legs now lies on the pavement above Sterling’s head, his gun pointed.
The officer radios for an ambulance. As Sterling moves his left arm toward his face and then his chest, the other officer appears to remove something from one of Sterling’s right pockets. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said Sterling was armed at the time he was killed and one witness said the officer removed a gun from Sterling’s pocket.
The officers involved in Tuesday’s shooting — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II — have been placed on administrative leave. A source close to the investigation told CNN the officers were interviewed Tuesday night.


Tensions are running high in the city of 238,000 people as officials vowed to be transparent about how they handle the controversial case that has sparked vigils in cities around the country.
Family of Alton Sterling breaks down at conference

“The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis. … As this video has been shared across the world, you will see with your own eyes how he was handled unjustly and killed without regard for the lives that he helped raise,” said McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s child.
Edmond Jordan, an attorney representing Sterling’s family, said the first video of the shooting raises troubling questions.
“I think that the city is going to have to give us some good answers,” Jordan, who is a Louisiana state legislator, told CNN. “And I don’t know if they’ll be able to.”


  1. Boujon Guiyave
    July 7, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Two shootings in 48 hours. In both instances the victim is black and the shooter white. The question I want to ask is why? I think that question is legitimate because it occurs with alarming regularity. Most damaging however the police is always judged to have acted lawfully.

    I read those stories and I remember Allen Chastanet elected PM. I remember him being referred to as “Dear leader” or “beloved Leader”. Never before have we referred to our PM in such amicable terms. I wonder what has made this man so beloved. What has he done worth talking about?

    Not that you can do anything about black deaths by white police officers in the USA although I think to show your solidarity with black people (after all Peter Josie tells us you have black blood in your veins) you should condemn those killings. But not only that I will be watching you even closer because if you have any affinity for the black race and St Lucians selflessness should be displayed in abundance by you. Let minor ministers talk about caricom. Focus on improving social and economic life within the country.

  2. Sad-But-True
    July 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    It is widely believed that white supremacy is a racist ideology of hatred promoted by marginal extremist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nations being manifested in America’s Police Agencies. Often overlooked and neglected in this view are the structural inequalities that ensure the continued supremacy of whites over non-whites in all facets of social life in the USA. Also conveniently disregarded are the more subtle, yet frequent and numerous, manifestations of white supremacy that are woven into the fabric of American culture. In this sense, white supremacy is just as much of a social reality as it is an ideology. Indeed the two often go hand in hand, although this isn’t always the case.

    1. Lucian
      July 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      You speak the truth. White supremacy is a worldwide disease that must be eradicated. Slavery and colonialism still go on, just not as overtly as before. Though it was removed from the physical plane, on the mental and spiritual planes these things are still going on.

      White media and populations show again and again and again in their responses to various events worldwide that they hold the belief that WHITE LIVES matter much more than lives of any other people. But the white race holds within it an especial hatred for black people. I think probably because black civilizations are their antithesis.

      African societies on the whole were based on spiritual living, and material development within that framework. The European, on the other hand, has shown his complete lack of morality and spirituality, and his idiocy in his pathetic grasp of Christianity (which the Ethiopians, in fact, have exemplified very well), by his violent, savage, barbaric behaviour the world over.

      And, like any typical abuser, the white man blames the black man for his own treatment. Personally I can’t wait until their Babylon, which has created crime, depression, homosexuality etc, falls and burns. Their society, while proclaiming Christ, is, in fact, the antichrist.