Fresh protests erupted in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, Wednesday following the fatal shooting of a black man by local police. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot dead by a police officer early Tuesday morning.
Protesters, who called for justice and chanted “Black lives matter,” held a vigil and played gospel music. The 37-year-old’s shooting was captured in a mobile phone video that was widely circulated and triggered the latest protests.
The 48-second video shows gunfire go off when one of the officers screamed, “He’s got a gun!” Sterling, a father of five, was declared dead at the scene.
The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting. Prior to the incident, an anonymous caller tipped off police that a man selling music CDs had threatened him with a gun. The officers responding to the call were involved in an altercation with Sterling before fatally shooting him. The two white officers — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II — have been placed on administrative leave.
“I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially and professionally,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing, to say the least.”
Earlier in the day, Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Louisiana, expressed concern over the officers’ body cameras.
“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?” Esman said in a statement.