Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed in an encounter with police officers in Baton Rouge, La., early Tuesday morning, according to a report by ABC News.
Sterling was killed after officers responded to a call from an someone who said they had been threatened by a man with a gun at a convenience store, according to the Baton Rouge Police Department.
The officers tackled Sterling and wrestled him to the ground, a video taken by someone in a nearby car shows. After a short struggle, one of the officers takes his gun out and holds it to Sterling’s chest. The video cuts away, but gunshots can be heard. A woman in the car erupts into sobs.
Someone on the video can be heard saying, “He’s got a gun,” although it is unclear whether Sterling actually had a gun. Louisiana is an open carry state, meaning it is completely legal to be armed with a gun.
The officers who responded to the scene have been placed on administrative leave per standard procedure, and the Baton Rouge Police are continuing to investigate the incident. The U.S. Justice Department is opening a civil rights investigation of its own.
This is not the first event of its kind. In fact, there have been several reports of similar incidents over the last year and a half, sparking the social media movement #BlackLivesMatter. The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson sparked the initial movement, followed by Eric Garner in New York City and Tamir Rice from Cleveland, Ohio, just to name a few.
The death of Alton Sterling has evoked protests of its own and continued through the night as the video footage surfaced. It has since gone viral.
Serling’s name began trending on Twitter as members of the Black Lives Matter movement expressed their sympathy and anger over the shooting. Images from social media show large crowds of demonstrators marching in Baton Rouge.
#AltonSterling shooting is further evidence action is needed. We need change. We need to do better. NOW not tomorrow!— Eric West (@EricXWest) 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
Not sure I have ever been so infuriated after watching a short clip. #AltonSterling— rmp (@Poznac_Sie) July 6, 2016
This nation is corrupted by colorism and police brutality. There was ZERO justification for what I just saw on the news. #AltonSterling— Kassandra (@kassandra_nahal) July 6, 2016
Protesters chanted, “Black lives matter,” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” echoing the chants of protests around the US in recent years.
“The video footage released today of the shooting of Alton Sterling by officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community,” US Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents Louisiana’s 2nd District, said in a statement, “There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding Mr. Sterling’s death.”
These concerns include the reasoning of the initial calls for police presence, the amount of force used by the officers, the altercation itself and the response of the officers after he was shot.
Family members and the local NAACP are calling for Louisiana State Police to take over the review from the Baton Rouge Police Department, according to NBC.
"I'm calling on anybody in this city with a backbone to go arrest those two officers," Mike McClanahan, from the local NAACP, said at a news conference.
Cornell Brooks, president of the NAACP, said the video of the incident hard to watch — but "far harder" to ignore.