The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division will lead the investigation into a controversial fatal police shooting of an African American man outside a convenience store Tuesday in the southern city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards said the Justice Department will be assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies.
Edwards told reporters Wednesday the video «is disturbing to say the least.»
The video showed officers shooting the man while he was pinned to the ground. It went viral, sparking protests and calls for the dismissal of the town’s police chief.
«What I’m calling for today is that the chief law enforcement officer to fire the police chief,» said Michael McClanahan, president of the local chapter of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP).
Alton Sterling, 37, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, according to the autopsy report.
How shooting happened
Two officers responded to an anonymous caller who said someone was selling CDs and had threatened him with a gun outside the store. A brief altercation ensued when the officers arrived. The store owner, Abdul Muflahi, told local media that one officer tackled Sterling, and when he resisted, the second officer shot him «four to six times.»
Sterling, the father of five, died at the scene.
Police have not released what led to the situation’s escalation. They also have not confirmed that a video shot on a witness’s phone is of the incident in question. Both officers have been put on administrative leave.
The video corresponds with Muflahi’s testimony, showing the victim being wrestled to the ground and shot. The police officer in question is heard saying «If you f****** move I swear to God» before firing his gun.
Protesters then took to the streets in Baton Rouge, with the crowd growing to over 200 people, according to local reporters. The group waved signs and chanted «Black lives matter» and «hands up don’t shoot» late into Tuesday.