In video of the shooting of Alton Sterling early on Tuesday morning, Baton Rouge police are heard shouting “he’s got a gun” before firing the shots that ended the 37-year-old black man’s life. Officers were responding to a report that a man fitting Sterling’s description had pulled a gun on someone outside the Triple S Food Mart, and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said on Wednesday, “When officers arrived, Sterling was armed and the altercation ensued that resulted in the loss of his life.”
Now a second video of the shooting has emerged, and it appears to show that Sterling did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot by police. Abdullah Muflahti, who owns the convenience store and was friends with Sterling, shot the video on his phone and shared it with the Daily Beast. Warning: The image and video below are graphic.
The second video shows more clearly what happened after police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake tackled Sterling and pinned him to the ground. One of the officers has his knee on Sterling’s left arm. Sterling moves his right arm, but his hand isn’t visible. The camera shakes as multiple shots are fired. When it refocuses, Sterling’s chest is bloody, and his arms are splayed out, hands apparently empty. A few seconds later, one of the officers pulls an object from Sterling’s right pants pocket. Police have not confirmed that it was a gun.
Muflahti says there was no “altercation” before police tasered and tackled Sterling, and he denies that he was brandishing a gun. “He didn’t even tell me about anything, he usually tells me,” Muflahi said. “He’s not that type of person. It would have been a very big problem to pull his gun out.” WAFB has obtained a recording in which the dispatcher tells police “he pulled a gun on a complainant and told him he couldn’t be around there.”
The incident was also captured by the store’s surveillance cameras. Muflahi says he refused to turn the footage over without a warrant, but police seized it anyway. “I told them i would like to be in the store when [they took it],” he explained. “They told me they didn’t want me to see the footage.”
Both officers were wearing body cameras, but police say they came loose during the struggle. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillary Moore III said he was present when the officers were interviewed by the police department on Wednesday, and both “believe they were completely justified in using deadly force.”
James Durdin, Salamoni’s father-in-law, told the New York Daily News that Black Lives Matter protesters, hundreds of whom turned out on Tuesday, are using the situation to promote an anti-police agenda. “It burns my you-know-what when it’s – usually the black people – that try to make an agenda out of this,” Durdin said. “What I’d like to see is them with no police at all, so they can know what it’s like not to have them … The majority of (cops) would never be abusive. Does anyone give a you-know-what about that? We’ll have social chaos (without cops).”