A second cellphone video obtained by The Daily Beast depicting white Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II shooting and killing Alton Sterling, a black man, is raising questions about the police department's claims that the officers shot Sterling because he threatened them with a gun.
In the video, recorded by Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the Triple S Food Mart where the shooting took place, Sterling can be seen struggling on his back as both officers pin him to the ground. Seconds into the clip, one of the officers can be heard shouting, "He's got a gun!" before firing at point-blank range at least four times. One of the officers then reaches into Sterling's right pocket and out pulls an unidentifiable object as the man lay bleeding out on the ground.
At no point in the video does Sterling appear to be holding a gun. This new footage appears to corroborate what Muflahi described having seen in earlier reports.
Warning: this video contains graphic images
Though paramedics were eventually called to the scene of the shooting, by the time they arrived, Sterling was already dead.
Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting, with District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III telling reporters Wednesday, “The officers feel they were completely justified.”
Salamoni and Lake are veterans of the Baton Rouge police force, having served four and three years, respectively. The New York Times reported that Salmoni is also the son of a captain in the department.
Sterling's death prompted an immediate and visceral outcry, with some linking the shooting to other incidents of police violence against black men. The convenience store where Sterling was killed quickly became the site of a large demonstration against police brutality. One protestor who declined to be identified told the New Orleans Times-Picayune : "We may not be from where Trayvon and Freddie Gray are from, but we bleed the same color. Now they've touched our city."
Officials were quick to respond to the shooting. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday morning that the U.S. Justice Department would spearhead an investigation into Sterling's death, with the help of the U.S. Attorney's office.
Edmond Jordan, a state representative and attorney for the Sterling family, welcomed the news, saying, "We’re confident that it won’t be swept under the rug. I think people are confident that justice will be pursued."