(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Graphic video provided by a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, convenience store owner shows the fatal shooting of a black man during a confrontation with two white police officers.
Baton Rouge police said the early Tuesday morning 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 Alton Sterling, 37, in the parking lot of the store, and “an altercation between Sterling and the officers ensued,” police said. Sterling was shot during the altercation and died at the scene, according to police.
In the video from the store owner, someone says, “Gun,” while one officer is on top of Sterling and one is next to him. Multiple shots are fired.
The camera then pans away. Someone says, “Get on the ground,” and three more shots are heard.
The camera pans back to Sterling, showing him lying on his back with a gunshot wound to his chest and an officer by Sterling’s head, pointing a gun at him.
Sterling’s body after the shooting has been obscured in the video, which was edited by ABC News.
In the video someone says, “Shots fired,” and an officer then takes an object out of Sterling’s front pants pocket.
The store owner, Abdullah Muflahi, who recorded the video on his cellphone, told ABC News he was standing a few feet from the altercation when Sterling was shot.
When Muflahi got outside, the officers were already slamming Sterling onto a parked car, he said. Then, the officers “backed off” before one officer tasered him and the other tackled him, Muflahi said.
“I thought I was just going to wake up from a nightmare,” Muflahi said of the ordeal. “It was horrible.”
Muflahi said he knew Sterling for about six years and that Sterling had been selling CDs outside his store for the past two years or so. Muflahi described Sterling as a friend who would sometimes watch his store when he had to step out.
“A lot of people loved and respected him,” Muflahi said, describing Sterling as a “very nice,” “always happy” and “loving guy” who would always buy snacks for kids in the neighborhood.
Another video obtained by ABC News shows the two officers appear to struggle with Sterling and slam him to the ground. One man yells, “Gun.” Then at least two shots are fired while the officers are close to Sterling.
As video of the shooting circulated online, public outrage exploded. Crowds gathered in Baton Rouge to protest, and #AltonSterling was the No. 1 hashtag in the United States on Twitter.
The two officers involved were placed on leave, police said.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said that when the two officers were interviewed by case detectives, the officers “indicated that they feared for their life and that deadly force was necessary and justified.”
An investigation of the shooting will be led by the Department of Justice’s civil rights division.
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