Cellphone video appears to show two white police officers holding down and fatally shooting 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man who had been selling CDs outside of a convenience store just after midnight on Tuesday.
In the video, Sterling is shot point-blank in the chest after one of the officers pinning Sterling down says he’s found a gun on Sterling. The head of the NAACP in Baton Rouge demanded this morning that the police chief be fired. Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Sue Lincoln of WRKF in Baton Rouge.
Interview Highlights: Sue Lincoln
Is Alton Sterling brandishing a gun in the video?
No he was not. As what we can see from the cell phone video, of course it did not start until the taser had first been fired. He was tasered twice, wrestled to the ground, and pinned to the ground by one of the officers, actually it looks like both of them, it’s partly obscured because he’s at the front end of the car. He doesn’t appear to be resisting, but it’s hard to know because we don’t have the full video. All we have is a cell phone shot at the time.
The police are saying the body cameras were knocked off?
That is what has been said. Witnesses at the scene also said that the body cameras were dangling from the officers’ vest. So we don’t know.
What do we know about Sterling’s past?
What we do know is that he had multiple arrests. One he was convicted for was having a gun and selling marijuana. He is also known to be a convicted sex offender, and that was for having sex with a minor. We don’t have any details for that right now.
Was the gun visible? Was it out of his pocket?
The gun itself does not appear in the video, and all the reports that we have gotten through the newspapers from witnesses at the scene say the gun was in his pocket at the time.
What’s the feeling in Baton Rouge?
There’s a sense of despair from the African-American community. They are concerned that it has come to this. There has been a lot of effort to try and calm tensions by folks in the religious community, by folks involved with police. We’re hoping that the powder keg doesn’t go off. But everything is set for that to possibly happen here, because for the second day in a row we are under a heat advisory.