Alton Sterling shooting: A comprehensive timeline of events
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Tuesday, July 5, the Baton Rouge Police Department said someone called in claiming a man was threatening the caller with a gun outside of the Triple S Food Mart, located at the corner of Fairfields Avenue and North Foster Drive.
Officials said Officer Blane Salamoni and Officer Howie Lake II responded to the call around 12:30 a.m. They reported an altercation ensued between the officers and Alton Sterling, 37, who was said to be outside the store selling CDs.
Abdullah Muflahi owns the store and said he knew Sterling. He also claims to have witnessed the shooting and said things quickly got out of control.
Muflahi claims one officer tased Sterling and the second officer tackled him to the ground, where Sterling struggled with the officer who had tackled him and was trying to get the officer "off the top of him." According to the store owner, the officers shot Sterling four to six times shortly after he was tackled.
Muflahi said he did not see a gun in Sterling's hand, but he said he did see officers pull a gun out of Sterling's pocket after the shooting.
An autopsy conducted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office revealed that Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to his back and chest.
The officers were placed on administrative leave after the shooting, which is standard procedure. The evening after the incident, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore confirmed that both officers said they felt their actions were justified just after the shooting.
Officials said both officers had on body cameras, but they fell off during the struggle and do not show the shooting. However, there is footage from the dashboard camera from one of the patrol cars as well as from at least one store surveillance camera, which is believed to have captured the ordeal.
The 9News Investigators were able to obtain the police dispatch recordings from just before and just after the shooting.
A preliminary investigation by BRPD determined only one of the two officers fired their weapon at the scene. Sources close to the case told the 9News Investigators that 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. The 9News Investigators reached out to Salamoni's lawyer, who had no comment. BRPD's policy for ongoing investigations is that they cannot comment.
Sterling's family confirmed that the father of five had a prior history with police including felony arrests.
The family of Alton Sterling and members of the local chapter of the NAACP held a press conference Wednesday morning asking for answers and demanding the firing of the chief of police.
Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Alton Sterling's son, hired attorney L. Chris Stewart and Justin Bamberg, who have represented numerous families killed by members of law enforcement.
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie held a press conference shortly after to release more information regarding the shooting. The police chief refuted the call for his resignation.
State officials announced Wednesday, July 6 that the investigation would be handed over to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Louisiana State Police will provide assistance in the investigation. How long the federal investigation will take or what role the State Police will play is so far unclear, according to Col. Mike Edmonson with LSP.
During that press conference on Wednesday, July 6, Moore confirmed that the United States Attorney will be handling any possible criminal charges. He expects the investigation will take at least four weeks to obtain all investigative evidence, at which time a formal report for a prosecution decision will be completed.
On Thursday, July 7, Moore said that the DA's office would not make a move on the case until the federal investigators wrapped up their investigation. However, Moore announced Monday, July 11 that he has recused his office from the case due to his personal relationship with Salamoni's parents.
A documentary crew was at the Triple S Food Mart at the time, and was able 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, which was shot by the store owner, emerged Wednesday afternoon. The graphic video, which was shot from a much closer distance, also shows the two Baton Rouge police officers struggling with Sterling. Neither video shows what led up to the altercation.
On Friday morning, attorneys for Quinyetta McMillon issued the statement on her behalf regarding the shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded during a protest Thursday night. Investigators said the police shooting of Sterling likely contributed to the mass shooting of Dallas police officers.
On Tuesday, July 11, President Obama placed a telephone call to the Sterling family to offer his and the First Lady's condolences on behalf of the American people for the death of their loved one.
People have gathered across Baton Rouge to participate in rallies, vigils and protests since Sterling's death. A memorial has been growing in honor of Sterling outside the convenience store where the shooting happened, and a mural has been painted on the side of the building.
A group called Baton Rouge Justice Or Else Coalition gathered Friday morning to ask the public to boycott the Mall of Louisiana, Mall at Cortana, Walmart and Albertsons for three days.
Law enforcement from several agencies were out in riot gear at protests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Protesters first started gathering Tuesday outside of store where Sterling was killed. Organizers moved the protests to the BRPD headquarters Friday afternoon, saying they wanted to get the police's attention.
On Saturday, a large crowd of protesters started a march from Cortana Mall down Airline Hwy. to the Baton Rouge Police Department. Protesters also went to the Louisiana State Capitol with a march. A peacefully rally unfolded once they arrived at the Capitol. Lawmakers and other community leaders were in attendance.
Police say a group of protesters attempted to block Government Street and the interstate on Sunday evening. Police and deputies say they managed to stop protesters before they were able to get onto the interstate. Other protesters marched again to the State Capitol, where they held another peaceful rally.
Several journalists were among those arrested Saturday, including a WAFB employee. Police also say they confiscated several guns on Saturday, including three rifles, three shotguns, and two pistols.
The owner of the store where Sterling died is suing BRPD officers and the city for illegal seizure and detainment following the incident, according to a lawsuit filed Monday with the 19th Judicial District Court.
Records show that an affidavit for a search warrant for the store's video surveillance was signed on the morning of Tuesday, July 5, and was filed with East Baton Rouge Parish on Monday, July 11.
Hillar Moore said there is no law that search warrants have to be filed within a certain time frame and that even though the warrant was filed into record Monday, officers did have the search warrant in hand before going into the Triple S to get the surveillance video.
On Wednesday, July 13, Cameron Sterling, the oldest son of Alton Sterling, held a press conference at the Triple S Food Mart. He pleaded for protesters to remain peaceful.
Later that same day, President Obama held a meeting in Washington, D.C. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana State Police, Col. Mike Edmonson attended. The event was aimed at bridging the divide between police and the community. They also discussed police training and tactics.
A protester who was arrested and charged with obstructing a highway and resisting an officer Saturday night during a demonstration outside Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters held a press conference on Thursday, July 14 to release video that he says proves he was beaten by police officers.
On Friday, July 15, the funeral for Alton Sterling was held at Southern University. Reverend All Sharpton and Congressman Cedric Richmond were among the many who spoke at the service.
Sterling's family asked for protests to end for the weekend of the funeral.
On Sunday, July 17, three law enforcement officers were killed and three additional officers were injured during an ambush shooting.
On Friday, April 28, 2017, Mayor-President Sharron Weston Broome released a statement that a decision regarding possible federal charges is expected. She noted that no timeline had been released.
The Washington Post published an article on Tuesday, May 2 stating that four sources confirmed that the Department of Justice is intending to decline charges against the officers.
Later that night, a vigil was held at the Triple S Food Mart and a small protest was held outside the Baton Rouge Police Headquarters. During the protest, three people were arrested for blocking the roadway and one of the three had an additional charge of battery of a police officer.
The Department of Justice held an official press conference Wednesday to announce that the agency declined to pursue charges. The family of Alton Sterling held a press conference at the same time as the announcement.
The Sterling case will next go to the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. That agency will be asked to determine whether the officers involved should face any state criminal charges. One example of a possible state criminal charge is manslaughter.
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