(BATON ROUGE, La.) — The 15-year-old son of Alton Sterling, a black man who was shot and killed during a confrontation with police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wept uncontrollably Wednesday morning as his mother spoke to the media about the slaying.
“He [her son Cameron Sterling] had to watch this, as this was put all over the outlets,” Quinyetta McMillan told reporters. “As a mother, I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father.”
Alton Sterling, 37, was killed early Tuesday in a shooting that was captured on cellphone video. In the video, which authorities have not yet confirmed shows the incident, two officers appear to struggle with Sterling and slam him to the ground. One man seems to yell “gun.” Then at least two shots are fired while the officers are close to Sterling.
“The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis,” McMillan said. He “simply tried to earn a living to take care of his children.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards later called for unity at a news conference Wednesday morning, as he announced that the investigation will be led by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
He said the Louisiana U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI will assist with the investigation and the state police will assist as necessary.
“I have very serious concerns,” the governor said. “The video is disturbing to say the least.”
He also urged protesters to “remain peaceful.”
“Another violent act … is not the answer,” he said.
Before the governor’s announcement, Edmond Jordan, an attorney for Sterling’s family, called for the investigation to be taken out of the hands of the Baton Rouge police and handed over to the Louisiana State Police.
“We’re praying that the truth ultimately comes out from this,” Jordan said. “We think with an independent investigation, we can get down to that. And that’s what the family wants.”
Mike McClanahan, the local NAACP leader, called for the firing or resignation of Baton Rouge Chief of Police Carl Dabadie Jr.
Baton Rouge police said the incident began when uniformed officers responded to a disturbance call from someone who said a black man who was selling CDs threatened him with a gun.
Officers approached Sterling in the parking lot of the convenience store, and “an altercation between Sterling and the officers ensued,” police said. He was shot during the altercation and died at the scene, police said.
The coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish said Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back.
As the video circulated online, public outrage exploded. In Baton Rouge, crowds gathered to protest, and on Twitter, #AltonSterling was the No. 1 hashtag in the United States.
The two Baton Rouge officers involved were placed on administrative leave, per standard procedure, the police said.
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