News and Commentary

UPDATED: 7 Things You Need To Know About Alton Sterling

Update: Newly released footage shows cops had been trying to grip Sterling’s right hand, presumably so he wouldn’t reach into his right pocket where his gun was. The video shows Sterling pinned to the ground as the officers shot him several times. After Sterling’s eyes roll back, one of them is seen yelling, “f******ck!!”

The two officers in question, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, are on administrative leave over the incident and are being investigated by the FBI. Officials have not released details on their motives yet, but activists are calling for their arrest.

37-year-old Alton Sterling was fatally shot during an altercation with police enforcement outside Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, after police had received a call that he had been pointing a gun at someone.

Video footage shows two officers wrestling with a black man wearing a red shirt, pinning him to the ground.

“He’s got a gun!” one of the officers is heard yelling, followed by “You f***ing move, I swear to God!” before four to six shots were fired into Sterling’s chest. Abdullah Muflahi, a store owner who had witnessed the scene, said he saw the officers pull out a gun from his pocket. Sterling died at the scene.

The video of Sterling’s struggle with the police went viral since last night, causing national outrage among racial advocacy groups. Police say the video had not been sent to the department, but released to the online media. Black Lives Matter threatened to riot over Sterling’s death, and the president of the NAACP’s local branch called for the Baton Rouge police chief and mayor to resign. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave since Sterling’s death.

“Alton was a respected man. He was beloved in the community. He did not deserve the treatment and this excessive force that was exerted on him by the police department,” Edmond Jordan, his attorney, told CNN. “Alton was out there selling CDs, trying to make a living. He was doing it with the permission of the store owner, so he wasn’t trespassing or anything like that. He wasn’t involved in any criminal conduct.”

As details of the current investigation unravel, here are seven things you need to know about the late Alton Sterling:

1. He was the father of five children from different partners.

Quinyetta McMillon, the father of his oldest son Cameron (15), said she feels hurt for her son, whom she has raised.

“As a mother, I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father, that I can’t take away from him,” McMillion told reporters this morning. “He is at an age of understanding. I hurt more for him and his loss as a parent. One of the greatest fears is to see your child hurt and know there’s nothing you can do about it.”

McMillon said she didn’t think Sterling should be judged for his past. Details about the mother[s] of his four younger children are still unclear.

2. He had a criminal history consisting of sexual intercourse with a minor under age 17 in 2000.

Records show Sterling was registered as a sex offender in 2004 for “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” on September 20, 2000 in his home state of Louisiana. Details of the offense have not been released.

3. In addition to selling CDs, Sterling “worked as a cook,” his friends said.

Muflahi said Sterling had been selling CDs outside his store and in the area nearby for the past six years. His friends Calvin Wilson (56) and David Solomon (60) said he had another job as a cook.

“Whatever he cooked, he cooked enough for everybody,” Wilson said.

4. He pleaded guilty to illegally carrying a weapon and possession of marijuana in 2009.

Sterling was sentenced for five years in prison for marijuana possession with the intent to distribute and for carrying an illegal weapon that had a controlled dangerous substance.

5. He lived at a shelter.

Sterling had been living for the past few months at the Living Waters Outreach Ministries at 4156 W. Brookstown Dr. at the order of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, due to his criminal offenses. His fellow residents at the shelter, Wilson and Solomon, said they helped him “sell CDs” at the home from time to time. Wilson added that about five people were living there full-time.

Sterling had registered at the address in July and a probation officer had checked on him in August, only to find from the center manager that he hadn’t lived there for two weeks.

6. A warrant was sent for his arrest in 2015 for failure to register as a sex offender, among other crimes.

By April, the local district attorney’s office filed charges against Sterling for his failure to register as a sex offender. His court records shows he was accused of other crimes since 1996. He had pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, simple criminal damage to property and unauthorized entry, and domestic abuse battery.

7. Sterling had been carrying a gun illegally at the time of his death.

Sterling’s family members say he was on probation at the time of his death and was not allowed to carry a gun. Muflahi said Sterling began carrying the gun recently after his friend was mugged. He had been incarcerated and released on parole shortly before his death.

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