The family attorney of Alton Sterling, 37, who was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday night, started off a press conference Wednesday by thanking technology companies that have armed witnesses with cameras to record news events as they unfold.
“Thank god for Apple, thank god for Google, Thank god for Microsoft. Because, if not for them, maybe we wouldn’t be here today,” lawyer Edmond Jordan said before explaining that the only video we’ve seen is from witnesses.
The shooting sparked outrage as the news of Sterling’s death, as well as graphic video, spread online shortly after the incident. His name was the top-trending topic in the United States on Twitter Wednesday morning.
The lawyer said that one of the first things law enforcement did was confiscate the surveillance video from the store where the incident occurred.
“There are no criminal charges pending against anyone, as far as we know. Certainly because of the tragic and unfortunate situation with Mr. Sterling, no criminal charges can be filed against him… why are they holding on to this video? We haven’t heard them say anything about bringing investigation against the officers,” Jordan said.
Jordan then called for the investigation to be “taken out of the hands of the Baton Rouge police department” and handed over to state police.
“The best way to ensure that there is no cover up is to hand it over to some neutral third party,” Jordan said. “I don’t think the department knew that there was another video out there.”
Earlier, the head of the Baton Rouge NAACP called for the police chief to be fired or resign.
Sterling, an African American man, was shot and killed outside a convenience store while selling music after an anonymous caller claimed he was armed, the New York Daily News reported. Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, East Baton Rouge Parish coroner Dr. William Clark said.
Two officers arrived at the store about 12:35 a.m. in response to a 911 call earlier in the day from someone claiming Sterling had threatened them with a gun, according Cpl. L’Jean McKneely. They then had some type of altercation with him and one officer fatally shot the suspect. Both officers have now been placed on administrative leave, which is standard department policy, he said.
A witness captured 48 seconds of the killing outside Triple S. Food Mart in a graphic video that culminates in an officer aiming his duty gun inches from Sterling’s body as he and his partner pinned him to the ground.
The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, told WAFB-TV that the first officer used a Taser on Sterling and the second officer tackled him. Muflahi said as the suspect fought to get the officer off of him, the first officer shot him “four to six times.”