Protest heats up near BRPD HQ with heavy law enforcement presence

Continuing coverage of protests after Alton Sterling shooting
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

Protesters continued to gather in different areas of Baton Rouge for a fifth day of protests following the death of Alton Sterling.

Crowds returned to previous protest sites outside of the Triple S Food Mart, where Sterling was killed, and near the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters on Airline Hwy.

Protesters have gathered outside the convenience store on North Foster Drive since Tuesday afternoon. Organizers moved their assembly to the BRPD headquarters Friday afternoon, saying they wanted to get the police's attention. 30 people were arrested during that protest for impeding traffic.

A large crowd of protesters started a march from Cortana Mall down Airline Hwy to the Baton Rouge Police Department. Police are out in riot gear as Black Panthers joined in the protest Saturday afternoon.

Officials estimate more than 100 people were arrested during Saturday's protest. Police also confiscated at least seven guns.

Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office and Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office went out to the protest on Airline Hwy to help assist BRPD, Louisiana State Police and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

Officials with BRPD report that two officers were injured during the protest. No word yet on the extent of their injuries.

For several days, people have gathered across Baton Rouge to participate in rallies and vigils to remember Sterling, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting early Tuesday morning.

On July 5, police received a call from an individual who claimed a man threatened the caller with a gun outside of the Triple S Food Mart on N. Foster Drive. The caller allegedly told police the man had a gun and threatened someone.

Officials said Officer Blane Salamoni and Officer Howie Lake II responded to the call. They added an altercation ensued between the officers and Sterling, 37, who was allegedly outside the store selling CDs.

The store owner, who witnessed the shooting, said things quickly got out of control. One officer used a stun gun on Sterling, then the other officer tackled Sterling to the ground. According to the store owner, the officers shot Sterling four to six times shortly after he was tackled. An autopsy conducted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office revealed that Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds to his back and chest.

Officials said both officers had on body cameras, but they fell off during the struggle and do not show the shooting. However, authorities were analyzing dash cam video and store surveillance video, which are believed to have captured the ordeal.

A preliminary investigation by Baton Rouge police determined only one of the two officers fired their weapon at the scene. Sources close to the case told the 9News Investigators that Officer Blane Salamoni, a four-year veteran of the force, is the officer believed to have fired all of the shots.

The 9News Investigators found complaints of force filed against the two officers in their histories with BRPD's Internal Affairs.

Officials announced Wednesday that the investigation would be handed over to the FBI. On Thursday, 19th Judicial District Attorney Hillar Moore said that the DA's office would not make a move on the case until the federal investigators wrapped up their investigation.

The officers were placed on administrative leave after the shooting, which is standard procedure. On Wednesday, Moore confirmed that both officers said that they felt their actions were justified just after the shooting.

A documentary crew arrived to the Triple S Food Mart just in time to record the shooting of Alton Sterling on a cell phone. The video, which surfaced on Tuesday evening, shows a portion of the struggle and the shooting. In the video, Sterling is seen on the ground with the two officers on top of him. At that point, one officer says, "he's got a gun" and then shots can be heard.

Another cell phone video from a private citizen emerged Wednesday afternoon. The graphic video, which was shot from a much closer distance, shows the two Baton Rouge police officers struggling with Sterling.

Sterling's family confirmed that he had a prior history with police including felony arrests.

On Friday morning, attorneys for Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Alton Sterling's son, issued the statement on her behalf regarding the shootings in Dallas hat left five police officers dead and seven others wounded during a protest Thursday night.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for people to donate to a scholarship fund for Sterling's children, including his eldest son who is 15-year-old.


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