Samaria Rice, the mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the boy shot and killed by Cleveland cops while playing with a toy gun in a park in November 2014, has been left outraged by the killing of Alton Sterling, the 37-year-old black male who was shot dead by Baton Rouge Police outside a convenience store early Tuesday.
Graphic video from a witness showing officers tackling him to the ground before shooting him several times spread like wildfire across social media, and people from all walks of life, including celebrities and politicians, are expressing shock and disgust.
— The Voice Newspaper (@TheVoiceNews) July 6, 2016
Many social media users are questioning why Alton had to be shot after being restrained. Some even compared him selling CDs outside a convenience store to Eric Garner selling loose cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island.
The tragedy of Tamir recently made headlines after a judge ordered two white boys to perform community service and write an essay on the death of Rice after they were caught playing with BB guns in an Ohio park. Both of the boys were slapped with a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
Makeshift memorial for “Big Alton” feet from spot of shooting; security camera in top right (police took video) pic.twitter.com/urboAfcihL
— Bryn Stole (@BrynStole) July 6, 2016
“It’s sad to me that another family has to go through this,” Samaria Rice said. “This is an execution-style murder on behalf of the government. They always say that they see a gun or he has a gun, and it’s not the truth.”
She added, “We have video footage surveillance, you have all the film in the world. What is it going to take for an indictment of these officers?”
The New York Daily News is one of several outlets noting how one of the officers in the video shouts “gun” before Alton is shot dead. Store owner Abdullah Mulfahi told the publication that Sterling’s hand was not near his gun and that one of the officers removed the gun from Alton’s pocket after he was shot.
An open carry law didn’t stop police from killing Alton Sterling: https://t.co/aShPKEgcsn.
— German Lopez (@germanrlopez) July 6, 2016
ABC News reports on the official release that names the two Baton Rouge police officers: Blane Salamoni, a four-year veteran, and Howie Lake II, a three-year veteran, both white men. They were placed on leave as the investigation into Alton’s death unfolds.
According to a Facebook post by the Baton Rouge Police Department, the two officers had responded to a call “from a complainant who stated that a black male who was selling music cd’s and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun” outside the Triple S Food Mart.
RIP Alton Sterling…this looks waaaaay to much like why happened to Eric Gardner…just for trying to make a living…shot dead.
— Ivan (@IvanIIMM) July 6, 2016
One resonating comment left under the Baton Rouge Police Dept. Facebook post read, “Why did they shoot him so many times? Why did that officer pull out his gun and aim it at his head after he was on the ground? Baton Rouge is not dumb. We all know that was murder. Body cams fell off but that wasn’t the only camera rolling.”
Sterling’s cousin, Sharida Sterling, told the Advocate that Alton “would have never fought the police, he wouldn’t have pulled a gun, he would have been too scared.”
Alton’s 15-year-old son cried uncontrollably Wednesday morning as his mother, Quinyetta McMillan, spoke to reporters about the slaying (see video below).
“He had to watch this, as this was put all over the outlets,” McMillan said. “As a mother, I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father.”
The shooting of #AltonSterling was 100% unneeded. Police misconduct and profiling have to stop. A few bad cops give all cops negative press.
— Tim Gerst (@timgerst) July 6, 2016
U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond issued a statement saying that the footage “was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community.” He added that “there are a number of unanswered questions” about the death. Rev. Jesse Jackson called the shooting a “legal lynching.”
— Fusion (@Fusion) July 6, 2016
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called for unity during a Wednesday morning news conference and announced that an investigation of the incident will be led by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
“I have very serious concerns,” the governor said, while urging protesters to “remain peaceful.”
“The video is disturbing to say the least,” he added. “Another violent act is not the answer.”
Video from the officers’ body cameras became dislodged during the incident but continued recording, as well as video from the patrol car camera and the convenience store, officials said.
“The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis,” McMillan said, adding that he “simply tried to earn a living to take care of his children.”
Alton Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back, according to the coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish. The Louisiana U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI will assist with the investigation into his death, along will state police.
[Photo by Arthur Reed/AP Images]