Alton Sterling was just another Black man looking for a way to make ends meet. The self-employed father of three would sell bootleg music outside Triple St. Food in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to earn extra cash. Sterling, 37, developed a good friendship with the owner of the store, Abdullah Muflahi, who allowed him to sell the music outside the store. Sterling eventually became known as the “CD Man” to those in the community.
But just after midnight on July 5, Sterling was approached by officers and violence erupted. According to reports by Rolling Out Magazine, an anonymous person called police and said that a man was selling CDs in front of Triple St. Food and had a gun. In Louisiana, gun owners are allowed to carry weapons without a permit as long as they are over 18 and not felons.
However, when Baton Rouge police officers approached Sterling, they were combative. A cellphone video captured two police officers slamming Sterling against a car and tackling him to the ground. They used a taser on Sterling who did not appear to resist arrest. One police officer apparently saw Sterling’s gun and yelled, “He’s got a gun!” Eyewitnesses say that Sterling never reached for his weapon and the police officers never asked to see a gun permit. Instead, the officers began firing gunshots at point blank range. According to initial reports by the coroner, two of the bullets hit Sterling in the back and chest.
Police were initially wearing body cameras, but the devices were some how destroyed during the confrontation and shooting. Police also confiscated the surveillance video from the store that captured the killing. The community showed their frustrations by protesting police brutality in front of the location where Sterling was killed.
Sterling has become the latest Black man to be killed by police in what has become a national epidemic. Until police and lawmakers are truthful about a need to change protocol, more Blacks will continue to be killed by the people who are paid by taxpayers to protect and serve.