The shooting of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge Police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II has sparked racially charged outrage across the country.
An independent investigation has been launched by the Department of Justice and the FBI to get to the bottom of what exactly happened the night Sterling was shot, but for now both officers are on paid administrative leave.
Here’s what we know about the lives of Sterling, Salamoni, and Lake:
Sterling was known locally as the “CD man.”
He often stood outside of the Triple S Food Mart where he sold CDs as well as DVDs in order to make ends meet. Baton Rouge resident Kimberly Lang told NOLA.com that she used to buy things from him, and said that he wasn’t out there to threaten people:
“If he’s out here at 12:30 at night selling CDs, he ain’t rich. He’s hustling. Getting money. Ain’t nothing wrong with hustling.”
He was loved by those who knew him.
Sterling’s family and friends had nothing but good things to say about the man they lost.
Veda Washington, Sterling’s aunt, told People:
“You would never get a bad report about Alton from anybody because he was a gentle giant.”
NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Baton Rouge native told TMZ that Sterling was a “great guy” who “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
He was a father.
Quinyetta McMillan, Sterling’s partner, gave a heartfelt press conference after his death. She described him as a loving father of five children:
“The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis”
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) July 6, 2016
Viewers could see his 15-year-old son, Cameron Sterling, sobbing just to his mother’s right while she talked.
He was living in a shelter prior to his death.
According to the Advocate, Sterling had been living at the Living Waters Outreach Ministry in Baton Rouge for many months prior to his death.
According to another resident, Calvin Wilson, the 37-year-old loved to cook:
“Whatever he cooked, he cooked enough for everybody.”
Sterling was a registered sex offender.
The 37-year-old was convicted of “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” back in 1996 when he was 20 years old. According to court documents, he was arrested after he impregnated a 14-year-old girl.
The girl’s mother reported him to police.
He had been charged with a felony in the past.
Sterling had a long criminal rap sheet and a history of violent crimes.
Court records provided by Heavy.com show that throughout his life, Sterling was arrested for aggravated battery, criminal damage to property, unauthorized entry and domestic abuse battery.
In 2009, he was sentenced to five years in prison for marijuana possession as well as carrying an illegal weapon with a controlled dangerous substance.
He was released in 2014.
He resisted arrest and had a firearm in his pocket.
The 911 call that summoned police was placed by a homeless man, who claimed Sterling had been brandishing a gun. After Officer Salamoni and Lake shot and killed Sterling, a handgun was removed from his pocket.
While there is a plethora of information on Sterling’s background, information about the two officers has been harder to find. Neither of them nor their close family members have spoken to the press yet.
But here’s what we do know:
Officer Lake was one of six officers who shot a 28-year-old man in 2014.
Back in 2014, Officer Lake was involved in the shooting of another suspect.
28-year-old Kevin Knight fled from police after they responded to a domestic violence call. Police reports from WAFB said that after the suspect crashed his vehicle, he began shooting at the officers while attempting to flee on foot.
The officers, including Lake, returned fire and shot the him several times. Knight was hit multiple times in the torso but survived the ordeal.
Lake was placed on leave during the investigation.
Both officers were awarded by the Baton Rouge Chief of Police last year.
In 2015, both Lake and Salamoni received commendations from the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Chief’s Awards Banquet.
Lake received a Certificate of Commendation while Salamoni earned a Life Saving award.
Officer Salamoni grew up in Baton Rouge.
He attended Catholic High School of Baton Rouge and graduated in 2006, according to their website.
He is a third-generation Baton Rouge officer.
Officer Salamoni’s parents are high-ranking members of the police force.
Blane’s mother, Melissa, is a retired captain of the Baton Rouge police force. According to her LinkedIn profile, she worked as the violent crime and crime scene commander.
Both Officers Lake and Salamoni have less than five years of experience on the force.
Salamoni is a four-year-veteran of the force, and Lake has served for three years.
They were wearing body cameras at the time, which allegedly fell off during the struggle.
The body camera footage from both officers have not been released. According to the Advocate, the two cameras came loose during their struggle with Sterling.
Salamoni’s father-in-law has harshly criticized black protesters.
James Durdin, Salamoni’s father-in-law, went after protestors in an interview with the NY Daily News:
“It burns my you-know-what when it’s – usually the black people – that try to make an agenda out of this. What I’d like to see is them with no police at all, so they can know what it’s like not to have them…”
“The majority of (cops) would never be abusive. Does anyone give a you-know-what about that? We’ll have social chaos (without cops).”
He also said his said his son-in-law is “well-trained” and did “what he’s trained to do” when they took down Sterling.
Both Salamoni and Lake are on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated.