Community leaders, family of Alton Sterling call for justice in deadly shooting

Published: Jul. 6, 2016 at 9:18 PM CDT
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Hundreds gathered outside a convenience store that was the scene where police shot and killed a...
Hundreds gathered outside a convenience store that was the scene where police shot and killed a man. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Community leaders and the family of Alton Sterling held a news conference at Baton Rouge City Hall one day after an officer-involved shooting that resulted in Sterling's death.

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling's eldest son, became very emotional when talking about her son's father. The 15-year-old boy cried openly while standing by his mother's side as she addressed the public.

Mike McClanahan, the leader of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP called for East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden to fire Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie and for Holden to resign.

Edmond Jordan, the attorney for Sterling's family, asked for Louisiana State Police to take over the investigation. Some community leaders, including one school board member who knew Sterling, are asking for the officers involved to be arrested.

Several hundred protesters gathered outside the convenient store where police shot and killed Sterling, who reportedly had a gun in his pocket.

The Baton Rouge Police Department held a news conference Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.

Police said they received a call from an individual who claimed Sterling had threatened the caller with a gun while Sterling was selling CDs in the parking lot of the Triple S convenient store on N. Foster Dr.

Two officers arrived and confronted him.

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 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, police are analyzing dash cam video and store surveillance video, which are believed to have captured the ordeal.

In cell phone video that shows part of the shooting, one officer is heard yelling "he's got a gun." The store owner said police pulled the gun from Sterling's pocket after the shooting.

"It just didn't make sense for someone to become so angry that's supposed to protect our lives and take this young man's life," said Vereta Lee. "It just doesn't make sense."

State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, is calling on Louisiana State Police to take over the investigation. Meanwhile, Congressman Cedric Richmond is requesting an investigation by the US Department of Justice. Richmond released the following statement:

The video footage released today of the shooting of Alton Sterling by officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community. I share in this anger and join the community in the pursuit of justice. My prayers and thoughts are with Mr. Sterling's family as they deal with this tragedy. There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding Mr. Sterling's death. Including questions about the initial calls for police presence, the level of force used by officers, the verbal and physical altercation, and the response of the officers after he was shot. I call on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a full and transparent investigation into this incident. The cause of justice requires state and local law enforcement to join in this request as soon as possible. I ask the leaders and citizens of Baton Rouge to join me in demonstrating our anger with dignity and demanding proper focus on our cause with perseverance. His family and the citizens of Baton Rouge--especially the citizens of North Baton Rouge--deserve answers and that is what we will seek in a fair, thorough, and transparent way.

Officials with the ACLU of Louisiana have also released the following statement:

Alton Sterling was shot to death while he was on the ground and two police officers were on top of him. Sadly, Mr. Sterling is the 122nd Black person to be killed by U.S. law enforcement this year. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and the city of Baton Rouge.

As we await a full accounting of the shooting, questions abound: Why did the officer shoot—multiple times—when Mr. Sterling was already being subdued? How did Mr. Sterling end up with gunshots in his chest and his back? What happened to cause both officers' body cameras to fall off during the same incident?

Whatever the answers to these specific questions may be, they will not explain or excuse the continued use of excessive force by law enforcement officers across the country, particularly against people of color. We stand in solidarity with Mr. Sterling's family and look forward to answers from the Department of Justice's investigation of the shooting.

Community pastors are inviting the public to gather near the store of the deadly shooting for a prayer vigil at 6 p.m.

RELATED: Mother of Alton Sterling's oldest son speaks at press conference

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