Alton Sterling, a CD-hawker who used to sell his wares outside a shop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was shot dead by police officers on July 5. Videos of the incident recorded by witnesses has thrown up questions of excessive force and racism while dealing with Sterling that resulted in his death.
Two (white) police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, responded to a 911 call about a man with a gun in front of a convenience store. When the cops arrived at the scene, they confronted 37-year-old Alton Sterling, who was selling CDs and DVDs in front of the store.
The cell-phone video shows that officers grabbed Sterling, threw him on the hood of a parked car, then pinned him to the ground. In the video footage, someone can be heard yelling, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” Moments later, a gunshot rings out. After the camera pulls away, several other shots are heard. Autopsy results later showed that Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back.
According to data on police shootings compiled by the Guardian and Washington Post, Louisiana has the 10th highest per capita rate of fatal police shootings compared to other states. Sterling was the 10th person killed by police in Louisiana so far in 2016. Seven of the victims were black; of those, two had guns.