The Department of Justice will investigate the shooting of Alton Sterling after a viral video of his death sparked outrage.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the investigation Wednesday. The shooting has already led to protests, and the NAACP of Baton Rouge has also called for the removal of the police chief.
“I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially and professionally,” Edwards said. “I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing, to say the least.”
Officers responded to a call early Tuesday morning from someone claiming a man selling CDs threatened him with a gun. Police arrived and got into a struggle with Sterling, 37. One officer fired multiple shots into Sterling’s back and chest, which reportedly killed him.
The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the US Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge and the FBI will investigate the shooting.
“We will be following the Federal investigation and provide all resources necessary to fulfill requests, made to our office, by any agency involved in this tragic incident,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement.
A video reportedly capturing the incident shows two cops yelling at a black man outside a convenience store.
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!”
After an apparent struggle, the officers get the man face-down on the ground.
A voice can be heard yelling, “He’s got a gun!”
One cop draws his weapon and points it at the man. The officer threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t stop moving. Then what sound like gunshots can be heard.
Abdul Muflahi, the store’s owner, told WAFB-TV that one of the officers tasered Sterling before he was taken to the ground. The owner said he didn’t see Sterling pull out a firearm, but that he did see officers take a gun out of Sterling’s pocket after the shooting.
Both cops have been placed on leave, as is standard department policy. The DOJ investigation comes only hours after Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond called for it.
“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,” Richmond said prior to the announcement of the investigation. “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.”
Abdullah Muflahi, owner of store where Alton Sterling killed in BR, describes seeing shooting by officer pic.twitter.com/08ABnQwr6a
— Maya Lau (@mayalau) July 5, 2016
WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.
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