DOJ to Lead Probe in Sterling Shooting Death

Associated Press

The U.S. Justice Department will lead a probe into the Tuesday morning shooting death of a Baton Rouge man by police, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday.

USA Today reports the department will work with the FBI and state police to find out what exactly led to the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling.

Edwards told reporters that an inquiry, originally being orchestrated by local police, would be handled “impartially, professionally and thoroughly.” He said the agency’s civil rights division would be in charge of the probe.

“I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing to say the least,” Edwards said.

The move comes hours after civil rights leaders, family members of Sterling and protesters called for the inquiry to be handed over to state and federal authorities.

An autopsy concluded that Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back. Abdul Muflahi, who owns the convenience store where the altercation took place, told WAFB that the first officer used a stun gun on Sterling and the second officer tackled him. Muflahi said Sterling fought to get the officer off of him, and the first officer shot him “four to six times.”

He says Sterling did not have a gun in his hand at the time, but he saw officers remove a firearm from his pocket after the shooting. A video of the incident was captured by the store’s surveillance cameras. Police now have that footage.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) called for the Justice Department to intervene on the investigation. He said officials claimed that both officers had body cameras, “but they fell off during the struggle and do not show the shooting.”

Baton Rouge NAACP President Michael McClanahan called on the mayor to fire the chief of police and then resign himself.

“The best way to insure that this is no cover up is to turn it over to a neutral third party,” McClanahan said.

Check back for updates.