The fatal shooting by police of Alton Sterling, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, CD salesman, has prompted protests and public grieving. But now the words of the local prosecutor are adding more gas to the fire.
Sterling was shot by two white Baton Rouge police officers, after a homeless man called police to say that the salesman had threatened him with a gun. A gun was found on Sterling’s body after the shooting.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III speaks at a press conference at BRPD concerning the Alton Sterling shooting. pic.twitter.com/vOY1r4gfeQ
— Bill Feig (@FeigPic) July 6, 2016
However, it’s his word selection that has many people recoiling:
“This is potentially a state-authorized killing. It gives law enforcement officers the authority and mandates them to kill when in defense of themselves or others.”
Police are given “state authorization” as well as federal authority to take another person’s life to stop a threat.
But the turn of phrase is not going over so well on social media:
The most chilling three word phrase ever: state authorized killing. Good grief. #BlackLivesMatterToo
— The Hammityville Horror (@inhammable) July 7, 2016
"State authorized killing," – that is the most disturbing thing a public official can say.
What country and Time… https://t.co/s7MNRJ5Db5
— Keith T. Daggett (@KDagge) July 7, 2016
After I heard "a state authorized killing" I had enough #JusticeForAltonSterling
— MsChristelle (@MrsChristelle) July 6, 2016
A city prosector says the white officers may have acted within the law when Alton Sterling was shot and killed https://t.co/qKzoFPDbmU
— New York Post (@nypost) July 7, 2016
CBS News reports that one of the videos of the shooting was taken by Sterling’s friend, a convenience store operator, who said the 37-year-old father of five carried a gun because of a recent robbery:
“Abdullah Muflahi, owner of the Triple S Food Mart, said he witnessed cops taking a gun out of Sterling’s pocket after he was shot. Muflahi said Sterling had been packing heat recently after being mugged.”
Before the shooting, one of the officers involved yelled to the other, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” before the fatal shots were fired.
Tom Pohlman, a retired Portland Police Bureau officer, former police weapons instructor and chaplain told Independent Journal Review that from the vantage point of the two videos he’s seen so far, it looks like the cops did the right thing:
“There are training videos out there showing guys shooting from inside clothing. [He’d been] Tased twice. It’s going to be ugly but better than one or two cop funerals. The simple answer for bad guys approached by cops is to not fight and resist.”
Former Everett, Washington, law enforcement officer Casey Gleason and author of the book, “Tales From the Beat,” told Independent Journal Review that the latest video still doesn’t clear up one thing for him about the gun found in Sterling’s right pocket:
“If it can be clearly seen that he didn’t reach for the gun, then the shooting may well be unjustified. If he was, end of story for everyone but those who are currently claiming he was ‘executed.'”
Federal prosecutors have opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.