Alton Sterling's Son Breaks Down as Family Addresses Fatal Police Shooting Outrage
Family and supporters of Alton Sterling held a heartbreakingly emotional press conference in the wake of the man's reported death at the hands of two Louisiana cops.
The teen son of 37-year-old Sterling broke down into sobs Wednesday morning as his mother lamented to reporters that she'll never be able to help him unsee the moment his own father was shot dead.
A video that purports to show Baton Rouge police officers fatally shoot Sterling while he's pinned to the ground has sparked outrage and protests in the Bayou State and beyond.
Sterling was reportedly shot dead by police Tuesday after a call to 911 that claimed he'd brandished a gun and threatened the caller while selling CDs outside a convenience store after midnight.
In the video, two officers can be seen wrestling a man to the ground before one appears to yell, "he's got a gun! Gun!"
One of the officers then fatally shoots the suspect, according to Cpl. L'Jean McKneely of the Baton Rouge Police.
A Baton Rouge PD press release named the officers as Blane Salamoni, a four-year veteran, and Howie Lake II, a three-year veteran.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie told reporters that the case has been turned over to the FBI and US Justice Department Civil Rights Division. "Like you I am demanding answers," he said at an afternoon press conference.
Earlier Wednesday, the Governor John Bel Edwards referred to Sterling's death as "a tragedy" and offered his condolences to his grieving family.
"I have very serious concerns, the video is distrubing to say the least," the governor said.
The owner of the store told WAFB-TV that Sterling was first hit with a stun gun before being shot "four to six" times.
The store owner told reporters he did not see Sterling pull a gun on the officers but that he did see the officers remove a gun from Sterling's person.
East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William Clark has said Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back.
A crowd of some 200 protesters had gathered outside the store after the video went viral Tuesday afternoon.
Protesters also at conference holding up signs pic.twitter.com/CCxp5a16Gq— Robbie Reynold (@RobbieReyNews) July 6, 2016
The demonstrators chanted "black lives matter" and "hands up don't shoot" while many waved signs late into the night.
A memorial to Sterling had sprung up outside the store by Wednesday.
"My brother didn't deserve it," Sterling's sister, Mignon Chambers, told reporters outside the store. "That was a life that you took away. That was a family man."
Chambers said Sterling had been selling CDs in front of the Triple S food mart for several years.
The press conference held Wednesday by Sterling's family, Michael McClanahan with the Baton Rouge NAACP and others was punctuated by many wrenching displays of emotion and angry demands for justice.
Through tears, the mother of Sterling's 15-year-old son told reporters "he is not what the mass media is making him out to be."
VIDEO: Protests after fatal police shooting in Louisiana. https://t.co/Uypb7sh7r6— The Associated Press (@AP) July 6, 2016
He was "a man who simply tried to earn a living, to take care of his children," she said.
The teen, who stood by his mother during her remarks, wept uncontrollably as she told reporters how he watched the killing of his own father in the viral footage.
"I will now be forced to raise a son who is forced to remember what happened to his father," she said. "I will not be able to take away from him."
The local NAACP chapter called for the resignation of the city's police chief, the officers involved and the city's CEO.
Two Baton Rouge PD officers have been placed on administrative leave per department policy. The BRPD called the investigation into the matter "ongoing."