The Store Owner Where Alton Sterling Was Killed Sues The Baton Rouge Police
Roughly one week has passed since Alton Sterling became the 114th known black man to be fatally shot by police in 2016. Sterling’s death in front of a Baton Rouge, Lousiana convenience store, caught on videos by the store’s owner and an eyewitness, inspired protests against police brutality and racial discrimination and sparked the outrage of many — including the owner of the store Sterling was shot in front of, who’s now suing the police.
Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the convenience store, sued Baton Rouge and its police department Tuesday. Muflahi has specifically accused authorities of “illegally taking him into custody and confiscating his entire security system without a warrant,” according to CNN. Muflahi caught the shooting on video from his store and gave it to The Daily Beast, which then published it. He also defended Sterling’s character, telling the outlet Sterling had been a “welcome presence at the store for years,” never “caused trouble,” and also denied seeing Sterling threaten anyone with a gun. L’Jean McKneely, department spokesman, declined to comment when asked by CNN about the lawsuit, citing standard procedure regarding pending litigation.
The U.S. Department of Justice is currently leading a criminal investigation into Sterling’s death, according to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. A federal civil rights investigation is also underway. According to East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore, potential state-level charges will be levied after results of the federal investigations are issued.
Officers arrived in front of Muflahi’s store after receiving an anonymous call that a man was threatening another man with a gun. A Baton Rouge detective told CNN that police officers shot Sterling when he threatened them with a gun, but in videos circulated by eyewitnesses, it appears that police shot Sterling while he was pinned to the ground after being brutally beaten. Many have also pointed out Louisiana law allows for concealed carry, and attribute police officers’ decision to kill Sterling to racial bias.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama personally called the families of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, another black man fatally shot by police last week, to offer his condolences. Last week, Obama issued a statement in response to both Sterling and Castile’s deaths, claiming “all Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.” However, Obama said he was “encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge.”