A Louisiana police officer shot and killed a black man following a confrontation outside a Baton Rouge convenience store, authorities said.
An autopsy showed Alton Sterling, 37, of Baton Rouge, died on Tuesday of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, said East Baton Rouge parish coroner Dr William Clark.
Officers had responded to the store at about 12.35am on Tuesday after an anonymous caller indicated a man selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt had threatened him with a gun, said corporal L’Jean McKneely.
Two officers responded and there was an altercation with the man, then one officer fatally shot the suspect, McKneely said. Both officers were placed on administrative leave under standard department policy, he said.
The store’s owner, Abdul Muflahi, told WAFB-TV that the first officer used a Taser on Sterling and the second officer tackled the man. Muflahi said that as Sterling fought to get the officer off him the first officer shot him “four to six times”.
People in Baton Rouge taking to the streets in response to the shooting of #altonsterling pic.twitter.com/OavspeoMra
— Quencie (@StudioQTV) July 6, 2016
Video of the shooting that circulated on Twitter sparked outrage.
Muflani said Sterling did not have a gun in his hand at the time but he saw officers remove a gun from Sterling’s pocket after the shooting.
McKneely said late on Tuesday that he could not confirm Muflahi’s description of the alleged event or any other details of the investigation.
On Tuesday night about 150 protesters took to the streets of Baton Rouge chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace”.
The protest continued past midnight and demonstrators said they would hold a rally outside city hall on Wednesday morning.
“We’ve seen a video that’s disturbing, and gruesome,” Mike McClanahan, Baton Rouge president of the NAACP, who was among the protesters for much of the evening, told the Advocate. “We know that justice must be served.”
Dozens of protesters in Louisiana on Tuesday chanted slogans and held up signs demanding justice for a black man fatally shot in an altercation with two police officers hours earlier, video postings on social media showed.
The shooting comes at a time of fierce national debate and heightened scrutiny over the use of excessive force by police, especially against black men, in major U.S. cities, such as New York, Baltimore and Chicago.
Posts on Twitter showed the demonstrators gathered outside the Triple S Food Mart convenience store in Baton Rouge, where, police said in a statement, the man, Alton Sterling, 37, was shot by officers soon after midnight.
“No justice, no peace,” chanted the protesters, who held up signs and occasionally blocked traffic, in images transmitted by media outlets in Baton Rouge.
Police officials were not immediately available to comment on the shooting or the protest. Reuters could not immediately trace relatives of Sterling, or a representative, to seek comment.
At about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, two police officers responded to a disturbance at the convenience store where they encountered Sterling, the Baton Rouge Police Department said.
“Uniformed officers responded to a disturbance call from a complainant who stated that a black male who was selling music CDs and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun,” it added.
Sterling was shot in the ensuing altercation and died at the scene. The officers where placed on administrative leave, police said.
Several news stations on Tuesday evening aired what they said was cell phone video of the incident. It showed an officer using a stun gun on a red-shirted black man in a store parking lot and ordering him to get on the ground.
The two officers then tackled the man to the ground, and one pulled a gun from his holster to point it at the man’s chest, the video showed.
At least three gunshots then ring out on the video clip, followed by the sound of a woman screaming and crying and a man asking whether “they shot him.”