Alton Sterling was involved in a confrontation with Baton Rouge police that appears to have similarities to the alleged details of the incident captured in part on witness video that left him dead and sparked a wave of protests around the country, according to a police report.
Sterling, a black man, was shot and killed during an altercation with white police officers last week outside the Triple S Convenience Store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Parts of the shooting were captured on cellphone videos.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in the recent case, police received a call on July 5 about a man who was said to be threatening someone with a gun. When they confronted Sterling, who fit the description, he allegedly failed to comply with commands or attempts to be restrained, so cops used their stun guns, the affidavit said.
Officers said they saw Sterling reach for a gun and shot him, the paperwork says. Police would not say if a gun was recovered.
Seven years earlier, Sterling was arrested after an armed confrontation with a Baton Rouge officer outside another convenience store.
According to a Baton Rouge police report, the May 29, 2009 incident began when police received a report of a suspect “pulling out a gun” on someone. The responding officer saw a man, later identified as Sterling, selling CDs, the report says.
The officer asked Sterling if he had weapons, but he didn’t answer, the report said. The officer began patting him down, the report said.
Sterling refused commands to keep his hand on the car, and eventually the officer and Sterling ended up struggling on the ground, the report said.
While wrestling on the ground with the officer, a black semi automatic handgun fell out of Sterling’s waistband, the report said.
Another deputy arrived at the scene and Sterling was placed into handcuffs, after which Sterling “continued to fight” with officers, the report said. The officer took the gun, the report said.
Sterling was arrested on charges including illegally carrying a weapon, possession of marijuana, and resisting an officer.
The Baton Rouge police department declined to comment today on the 2009 incident.
Sterling pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years, according to East Baton Rouge Parish court. It was not clear how much time he served.
At a news conference today, Sterling family attorney L. Chris Stewart addressed reports about his past, calling it “one of the biggest character assassination attempts on someone that I’ve ever seen.”
“You can judge a man by his past or in this case you can judge him by what we saw in the videotape,” Stewart said. “All that matters is that video tape.”
In one video of last week’s deadly encounter, someone says, “Gun,” while one officer is on top of Sterling and one is next to him. Multiple shots are fired. The camera then pans away. Someone says, “Get on the ground,” and three more shots are heard.
The camera pans back to Sterling, showing him lying on his back with a gunshot wound. In the video someone says, “Shots fired,” and an officer then takes an object out of Sterling’s front pants pocket.
The two Baton Rouge officers involved, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, were placed on paid administrative leave.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III has recused himself from the investigation, he said Monday, citing a professional relationship with Salamoni’s parents, both high-ranking police officers.
Moore said last week that when Salamoni and Lake were interviewed by case detectives, the two officers “indicated that they feared for their life and that deadly force was necessary and justified.”
The investigation into the shooting is being led by the U.S.Department of Justice’s civil rights division. SOURCE