Two Baton Rouge 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.
What happened next was captured on grainy cellphone video. The 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.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana released the following statement in response to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision not to bring criminal charges against the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.
Jane Johnson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said:
“Alton Sterling was shot to death by two Baton Rouge police officers who were on top of him as he lay on the ground. He became the 122nd Black person to be killed by U.S. law enforcement in 2016. His death is yet another example of police brutality against people of color and our country’s systemic failure to hold law enforcement accountable for that brutality. Justice will not be served until we end this epidemic of police violence against people of color once and for all.
“Moving forward, we will continue to stand in solidarity with Mr. Sterling’s family and the communities most scarred by police violence. We join those urging Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul to fire the two officers involved, release all body camera and surveillance footage of the incident, and do everything in his power to end unjustified killings of civilians. Further, law enforcement agencies must respect the First Amendment rights of peaceful protesters and abide by the terms of the MOU they signed in 2016.”
In November 2016, after a series of unconstitutional law enforcement reactions to protest over the Sterling’s death, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the City of Baton Rouge entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the ACLU of Louisiana and four other organizations that had filed suit regarding the treatment of peaceful protesters. These law enforcement agencies committed to use only the level of force objectively reasonable to bring an incident under control and only arrest those who they have reasonable belief to have violated the law, use de-escalation, and uphold everyone’s First Amendment rights.
More information about the lawsuit and the resulting agreement is at: https://www.laaclu.org/en/cases/nbrm-v-br