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US Justice Department to Lead Louisiana Police Shooting Probe


A woman touches a makeshift memorial for Alton Sterling, outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 6, 2016. Sterling was shot and killed by police outside the store.

A woman touches a makeshift memorial for Alton Sterling, outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 6, 2016. Sterling was shot and killed by police outside the store.

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division will lead the investigation into the fatal police shooting of an African American man outside a convenience store Tuesday in the southern city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Governor John Bel Edwards said the Justice Department will be assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies.

Edwards said Wednesday "I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing to say the least."

The video showed one of two officers shooting 37-year-old Alton Sterling while he was pinned to the ground. The video sparked protests and calls for the dismissal of the town's police chief, Carl Dabadie.

At a separate media briefing, Debadie said "when officers arrived, Sterling was armed" and a struggle ensued.

Police have not said what led to the escalation.

But Louisiana state Representative Edmond Jordan, an attorney for the victim's family, said "Mr. Sterling was not reaching for a weapon. He looks like a man that was actually fighting for his life."

In this July 5, 2016, photo made from video, Alton Sterling is held by two Baton Rouge police officers, with one holding a hand gun, outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In this July 5, 2016, photo made from video, Alton Sterling is held by two Baton Rouge police officers, with one holding a hand gun, outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Multiple gunshot wounds

Sterling suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, according to the autopsy report.

The officers have been identified as four-year veteran Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, who has been on the police force for three years. Both have been put on administrative leave.

They responded to an anonymous caller who said someone was selling CDs and had threatened him with a gun outside the store. A brief altercation ensued when the officers arrived. The store owner, Abdul Muflahi, told local media that one officer tackled Sterling, and when he resisted, the second officer shot him "four to six times."

Sterling, a father of five, died at the scene.

The video corresponds with Muflahi's testimony, showing the victim being wrestled to the ground and shot. On the video, a person shouts, "He's got a gun!" before the shooting officer is heard saying, "If you [expletive] move I swear to God," before firing his gun.

Protesters then took to the streets in Baton Rouge, with the crowd growing to over 200 people, according to local reports. The group waved signs and chanted "Black lives matter" and "hands up don't shoot" late into Tuesday.

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