SAINT PAUL, Minnesota, USA (sentinel.ht) – In a span of 24 hours Americans were witness to the unnecessary deaths of two of its citizens of African descent at the hands of police. Alton Sterling was shot at point blank range by Baton Rouge, Louisiana police while being pinned down. Philando Castile was shot reaching for his wallet during a routine traffic stop purportedly for a broken tail light.
On the night of July 5, 2016, a ‘persistent’ homeless man had approached Alton Sterling, 37, while he was selling CDs in front of a convenience store in Baton Rouge.
Sterling was said to be annoyed by the persistent begging, saying, “I told you to leave me alone”, and showed the homeless man his firearm, not actually brandishing it or pointing it at anyone reports seem to say. It is important to note that carrying a gun is legal in the state of Louisiana.
The homeless man used his cellphone to call 911 and report that Alton Sterling threatened him with a gun.
Bystanders begin filming when two officers, Homie Blake II, with four years on the force, and Brian Salamoni, with three, were approaching Sterling. These officers have had four excessive use of force complaints lodged against. Three complaints from black men and one from a juvenile. One complaint was for having drawn a weapon needlessly. The other three involved injuries to suspects.
The officers yell “get on the ground, get on the @#$% ground” and Sterling is asking why and what is the law enforcement action against him about.
The police did not answer those questions and one officer tasered him as another tackled him and wrestled him to the ground on his back. One officer sat on Sterling’s torso and held Sterling’s right arm pinned to his chest (according to the store owner who stood a few feet away). The second officer had Sterling’s left arm pinned by his knee and also held Sterling to the ground.
The first officer described above then screams “he’s got a gun!” The manner in which he shouted it seemed to infer that Sterling actually had a gun in his hand which didn’t appear the case in the video. The second officer then drew his firearm and told Sterling “hey bro, you @#$5! move, I swear to God”. This is when five shots from the officer’s gun were fired. Two into his chest, a third off camera and two toward the back.
After the shots were fired Sterling was still clinging to his life when the first aforementioned officer reached inside of his pocket to remove the gun he had.
Irrelevant to Tuesday nights incident was that Alton Sterling had a rap sheet of misdemeanors and non-violent crimes, but by all accounts, Philando Castile, shot and killed by Minnesota Police on Wednesday, was a model citizen.
According to Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s fiancee, the two and her four-year old daughter were driving home when they were pulled over by Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser for a broken tail light the officers told them.
For some reason, they were told to put their hands in the air. Castile told the officers that he was in possession of a firearm and was permitted to conceal and carry. Officer, Yanez, asked the driver, Castile, for license and registration and upon reaching for it, was shot four times in the arm and abdomen.
It is at this time that Diamond Reynolds began live streaming the final moments of Castile’s life. Yanez still had his gun drawn him as he was slumped and dying. The officer was yelling “I told him not to move”.
The Saint Anthony’s Police Department has been tight-lipped about the case, offering no transparency to the public, even family members.