The fatal shooting of 37-year-old Black father of five Alton Sterling is yet again causing the Black community and all of those against police brutality to come together in anger, disgust and sadness.
Through graphic video footage that hit the Internet late Tuesday evening, the world was given a close look at the disturbing incident that ultimately led to the end of Alton’s life at the hands of local police officers. Although details and facts surrounding what really happened leading up to the senseless police shooting are still developing, here’s what we know so far about what took place.
According to multiple reports, Alton was outside of a gas station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana selling CDs just after midnight when police say they received a call about a “disturbance.” New York Daily News reports claim the caller told police that “a man in a red shirt” outside the gas station had threatened him with a gun. The video, taken by an anonymous witness who was sitting in a nearby vehicle as the incident took place, picks up shortly after police arrived on the scene. At the beginning of the clip, two cops are seen standing in close proximity to Alton with their guns drawn while yelling at him to “get on the ground!” When Alton doesn’t comply, one of the officers rushes him and tackles him to the ground, while the other forcefully holds his head to the pavement as the other officer places his knee in Alton’s chest.
After a brief struggle while attempting to secure Alton as he’s down on the ground and pinned under both police officers, one of the officers yells “he’s got a gun!” At that point, the other officer draws his gun, points it point blank range at Austin and screams to him: “If you f****n move, I swear to God!” Seconds later, the other officer yells out something and fires his gun as it’s pointed at Alton’s chest. The camera then pans down and 3 more shots ring out as a woman in the car is heard screaming and crying. “They shot him?” a male voice asks. “Yes,” the crying woman says. The video ends seconds later.
A local Baton Rouge man apparently visited the gas station where Alton was killed shortly after the incident occurred and spoke to the owner. He shared the details on their conversation in a quick video clip on Twitter.
Other reports have corroborated the story of the man in the video above, suggesting that Alton’s gun was secured in his pocket and was found by police one they allegedly tased him, tackled him to the ground and began to search him. The witnesses who have come forward so far all maintain that at no point did Alton reach for his gun. It was also pointed out on late Tuesday evening that it is legal to carry a gun without a permit in the the state of Louisiana as long as the owner is at least 17 years of age and is able to “legally possess the gun under state and federal law.” The store owner reportedly told the NYDN that Alton purchased the gun days earlier for protection after learning that other CD sellers in the area had been robbed. Although the responding officers were said to have been wearing body cameras, Baton Rouge police chief Carl Dabadie reportedly told Louisiana state representative that the cameras “fell off” during the incident and therefore did not record the confrontation. The gas station store owner revealed that police also confiscated a surveillance camera that he says would have “captured every second” of the horrific killing.
Politicians, celebrities, activists and most on social media have continued to rightfully express outrage over this latest police brutality incident to claim the life of a young Black father, while protestors took to the streets of Baton Rouge calling for justice shortly after the video footage was release. State representative Ted James and Congressman Cedric Richmond have each called for thorough Department of Justice investigations into Sterling’s death, calling it “deeply troubling” and a “murder.”
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.