Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul released four previously unseen videos of the 2016 shooting death of 37-year-old black man Alton Sterling.
“The videos you will see and hear are graphic and shocking to the conscience,” Paul said at a press conference on Friday evening.
The graphic videos from two police body cameras, a dashboard camera and a store surveillance camera show Baton Rouge Parish police Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, both of whom are white, confronting Sterling, 37, outside the Triple S Food Mart on July 5, 2016. The officers, Paul said, were responding to a call about a man with a gun.
The footage appears to show Salamoni and Lake attempting to subdue Sterling in front of the store. After a brief scuffle, Salamoni can be heard shouting profanities at Sterling. “I’m going to shoot you in your fucking head,” Salamoni appears to yell, before hitting Sterling with a stun gun.
The officers are then seen pinning Sterling to the ground, and shortly afterward, three shots are fired. Sterling, still alive and with a visible wound to his chest, moves his left arm toward his head and face. Moments later, an officer can be heard telling Sterling to “Get on the ground.” Three more shots are fired. As one of the officers sits on the ground, the other can be seen pulling an object from Sterling’s right pocket.
Warning: The videos below are graphic and disturbing to watch.
Paul, the police chief, announced on Friday that Salamoni had been fired over the shooting, and Lake had received a three-day suspension.
“Officer Blane Salamoni has been terminated from the Baton Rouge Police Department as of today,” Paul said.
“We have two officers involved in one incident, two different perspectives, and they perceived the threat differently [and] one officer did not follow tactics or training,” the police chief said of the shooting.
“My finding is based on the actions of the officers,” Paul said. “These actions were not minor deviations from policy as they contributed to the outcome that resulted in the death of another human being ... Officer Howie Lake answered all of the questions that was presented during the hearing. On the advice of his attorney, Officer [Blane] Salamoni chose not to answer any of our questions.”
It’s unclear whether other evidentiary items, including audio recordings and eyewitness statements, will be released.
The release of the footage and the disciplinary actions against both officers come almost two years after Sterling, a father of five, was killed outside of the store.
Those videos had showed that Lake wrestled Sterling to the ground, and that Salamoni shot him multiple times at close range in the back and chest. But it was unclear from the videos whether Sterling had been a threat. Following the shooting, Salamoni argued that Sterling had reached for a gun during the encounter. Authorities said the officers found a loaded revolver in Sterling’s pocket.
Just four days ago, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that his office, too, would not pursue charges against Lake or Salamoni.
“Both officers acted in a reasonable and justified manner in the shooting death of Mr. Sterling,” the prosecutor argued on Monday, adding that Sterling was shot because he resisted arrest.
With the federal and state investigations concluded, it was up to Paul to decide whether to discipline or fire the officers.
“Policing isn’t easy,” Paul said. “Treat our police officers with the respect that they deserve … Please stop resisting. Stop running. When a police officer gives you direction, listen … please, it’s important.”
This post will be updated when all videos become available.