Amnesty International USA is calling for an independent investigation into the death of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“The available video footage of the death of Alton Sterling raises questions about the circumstances of this shooting that must be answered,” Jamira Burley, Amnesty International USA’s campaign manager, said in the statement. "A thorough, impartial and independent investigation must be conducted as soon as possible."
The Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into Sterling's death.
Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police early on Tuesday morning. The police department identified the officers involved as Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II.
The department has not released many more details on the shooting, but the officers were responding to reports of a man carrying a gun, threatening others and selling CDs in front of a Triple S convenience store.
Sterling, who was shot in the chest and back multiple times, is the 558th person to be killed by police this year, according to The Counted, a project by The Guardian tracking police killings in America.
“The use of lethal force in the U.S. continues unabated due to inadequate laws and the lack of accountability for officers who are accused of using unnecessary or excessive force. Without reforms, there will be more deaths,” Burley said.
A 2015 report from the organization found that every state in the U.S. does not meet international use of force standards. Louisiana is one of 20 states that grant private citizens the right to use lethal force if they are executing law enforcement duties, such as aiding an officer in making an arrest. The state’s justifiable homicide statute is also vague, stating that anyone is justified in killing another person as long as it is committed in self-defense or in defense of others. This statute also does not separate law enforcement officials from private citizens.
“According to international law, lethal force must only be used as an absolute last resort to prevent death or serious injury,” Burley said. “Laws in Louisiana, and across the country, must be brought into line with international standards.”