Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police on Tuesday, July 5, and video of his death has sparked a wide-reaching reaction online.
The 37-year-old was selling homemade CDs and DVDs outside a store in the early hours of Tuesday morning when police arrived on the scene, responding to an anonymous 911 call about a man in a red shirt threatening people with a gun, authorities told the Associated Press.
The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, later told WAFB TV that two officers showed up, and an altercation broke out between them and Sterling. According to him, the first officer used a stun gun on Sterling and the second officer tackled him to the ground. As Sterling tried to get the second officer off him, the first officer fired “four to six” shots,” killing him instantly.
A video shot by a community activist has since circulated online. In the clip, one officer can be heard yelling, “Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” The camera cuts away just as gunshots are heard and the onlooker can be heard saying, “They shot him!”
The officers involved are now on administrative leave, according to the Associated Press.
Baton Rouge Police Lt. Johnny Dunham told reporters Wednesday that the police had a body camera that captured video from the incident, but “that footage may not be as good as we hoped for.”
“During the altercation, the body cameras did become dislodged, but they did stay on and active and recording at this time,” Dunham said.
Angry protesters immediately called for Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. to step down, but Dabadie urged residents not to fight violence with violence.
“I don’t plan on resigning,” he said, adding that his department has turned the investigation of the incident over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. “We have done a lot of good in this community. We have worked very hard in this community. Do we have an issue right now? Yes. But we are working right now to bring the truth out.”
Celebrities such as Amy Schumer, Zendaya, Jesse Williams and Chuck D took to social media to demand justice and visibility for the killing. See what they said:
1) In the interest of time, would ye noble patriots please provide a list of infractions punishable by spontaneous public execution? Thanks!
— jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) July 6, 2016
Love to Louisiana #AltonSterling
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) July 6, 2016
How many more times must this happen for us to matter? How many more must we lose?
BLACK. LIVES. MATTER. #AltonSterling
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) July 6, 2016
This is domestic terrorism. We should be more infuriated by what we do to each other as Americans than we are about foreign threats.
— Bridget Kelly (@IamBridgetKelly) July 6, 2016
IF anything THIS proves why the term #BlackLivesMatter is the CRYOUT to the rest of the Planet Earth from this United States Of America.
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) July 6, 2016
Praying for justice & peace in #AltonSterling case. Leadership roles(i.e. police) MUST require real accountability. The pattern MUST change💔
— hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) July 6, 2016
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) July 6, 2016
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) July 6, 2016
— MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) July 6, 2016
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 6, 2016