BATON ROUGE, La. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI will conduct an independent investigation into a police shooting that killed a 37-year-old man in Louisiana.
Alton Sterling died Tuesday morning. He had been pinned down and restrained by police before he was shot. Video of the incident went viral on social media, sparking outrage and renewing the national debate about police and deadly force.
In-car cameras recorded footage of the shooting, as did cameras from a nearby store.
“The footage may not be as good as we hoped for,” said Baton Rouge Police Lt. Johnny Dunham of the body camera recordings. “During the altercation, the body cameras did become dislodged, but they did stay on and active.”
Police chief calls for calm, promises transparency
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. promised the investigation would be transparent. He told reporters during a news conference Wednesday that officers’ body cameras recorded the shooting.
“Like you, there is a lot that we do not understand, and at this point, like you, I am demanding answers,” Dabadie told reporters on Wednesday. “Like you all, my prayers are with this community, and especially with the family and loved ones of Mr. Sterling, and all the members of the Baton Rouge Police Department.”
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, which is stand procedure in such cases.
Dabadie said he understood anger in the Baton Rouge community but urged demonstrators to protest in a peaceful manner. He said he would not resign from his position despite calls for him to do so.
“We ask for your voluntary compliance to our laws and peaceful assembly with any gatherings that may be planned. We encourage you to plan and protest … we don’t have any problems with that. We just ask you to do it peacefully, and that no one gets hurt,” he said.
Baltimore mayor reaches out to city
“We’re not here to hide anything at all,” said Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden. “We believe that justice will be served.”
Holden said investigators are doing their best “to make sure we get all the answers.”
Holden said he received a call from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called him to offer her support. Demonstrations erupted in her city after the death of Freddie Gray, a man who died in police custody.
“Baltimore has been through the same that that we’re witnessing here in Baton Rouge,” Holden said.
Holden also put to rest calls for his resignation.
What happened to Alton Sterling?
Sterling died Tuesday morning after police arrived at a convenience store. Police were dispatched after receiving a 911 call that a man had threatened him with a gun.
What happened next will be at the center of the investigation. Footage apparently captured by a witness on a cell phone shows two officers pinning a man, Sterling, to the ground. A second officer restrains him.
Someone shouts, “He’s got a gun.”
An officer is then seen drawing something from his waist and pointing it at Sterling. It’s hard to make out what’s being said, but two more distinctive bangs are unmistakable.
Edmond Jordan, an attorney representing Sterling’s family, said the video of the shooting raises troubling questions. He said Sterling’s family has seen the footage.
Sterling was known as the “CD man” in the community and often sold CDs and DVDs outside the convenience store. Jordan said he had the store owner’s permission to be there.
The store owner said he didn’t see Sterling pull a gun or threaten anyone.