Protests erupted in Baton Rouge after a police officer fatally shot a black man after a confrontation with him outside a convenience store in the Louisiana capital Tuesday. Two police officers were placed on leave immediately after the shooting.
Alton Sterling, 37, was shot shortly after midnight, in the early hours of Tuesday. Autopsy result showed he died of multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and back, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William Clark said.
Prior to the shooting, an anonymous caller told police that a man selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt had threatened him with a gun. The officers responding to the call were involved in an altercation with Sterling, who was shot by one of the officers, Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said. The father of five reportedly died at the scene.
The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, told local news network WAFB-TV. a CBS affiliate, that Sterling was Tasered by one of the officers and a second officer tackled the suspect. According to Muflahi, Sterling tried to get the officer “off the top of him” when he was shot by the officer who Tasered him.
McKneely reportedly said he could not confirm Muflahi’s description of the event.
After the shooting, a video of which went viral, people protested and blocked nearby roads in Baton Rouge chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace.” The demonstrators said they would hold a rally in front of City Hall Wednesday morning.
“We’ve seen a video that’s disturbing, and gruesome,” Mike McClanahan, Baton Rouge president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who was among the protesters for much of the evening, told the Advocate. “We know that justice must be served.”
Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond issued a statement saying the shooting was “a tragedy,” and added that the family of the victim and residents of Baton Rouge “deserve answers, and that is what we will seek.”
There were over 1,000 fatal shootings by police in the U.S. during 2015, and the number of black Americans killed in those encounters was disproportionately high among the fatalities, according to study by the Guardian. There have been several such high-profile cases in the recent years, such as the shootings of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Outrage over the shooting of Sterling was expressed by many on social media.