What We Know So Far About The Shootings of Alton Sterling & Philando Castile
Here we are again: more videos have appeared online showing the apparent killing of two black men by police officers within 48 hours of each other.
Here are all the facts of these stories that we have so far according to reported sources. Their circumstances are alarmingly similar.
Alton Sterling, 37, was selling CDs and DVDs outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when two white officers approached him, according to CNN. The cops were reportedly called after a homeless man allegedly approached Sterling asking for money and Sterling showed him a gun he was carrying. The homeless man then called the cops, saying he was waving a gun.
When the cops arrived, the words between the cops and Alton on video are hard to make out in the moments leading up to him being put onto the ground. He was allegedly Tasered and then pinned down by the two cops, according to the Daily Beast.
After Alton is wrestled to the ground, he appears to be under control by the cops and unresisting in the video, until one of the officers begins screaming that he has a gun, when they already have their knees in his chest. In the video, it looks like several shots are fired from point-blank range into Alton’s chest, and screams can be heard in the video from onlookers.
This first video of Alton’s shooting that appeared online was grainy and only showed the side angle, which makes the events that much harder to tell apart and the facts much harder to determine.
But a much clearer second video has surfaced, and we are given another view of what occurs while Alton is on the ground. The second video seems to contradict police claims that Alton had a gun, as we cannot see that a gun is present near Alton in the video.
As news of Alton’s execution spread through social media like wildfire, another event in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, unfolded, and it was all live-streamed by the victim’s girlfriend as she sat next to him in the car while he was allegedly shot, with her four-year-old daughter in the back seat.
Philando Castile, 32, was reportedly being pulled over for a busted tail light when officers approached the car. His girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, broadcast the aftermath of the incident in a live-streamed video on Facebook. In the video, she says that Philando told officers he was carrying a firearm, and that he had a permit to carry. She claims that after the officer asked Philando to reach for his registration, he shot Philando in the arm four times.
During the entire live-stream, Diamond is composed and appears to be cooperating with cops. “He’s licensed to carry,” she says during the live-stream. “He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out of his pocket and he let the officer know that he was — he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet,” Diamond says.
The video hit 1 million views on Facebook and was removed for one hour but then restored, according to CNET. Facebook has since said it won’t censor the video.
As in many cases of documented police brutality, people are examining the victims’ criminal history. Sterling, the first victim, was a registered sex offender and was on probation at the time of the shooting, according to the NY Daily News, meaning he would not have been allowed to carry a gun, regardless of Louisiana’s open carry law.
In 2000, he was convicted of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and he went to jail until October 2004, the Daily News reports. He was also previously 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 and for carrying an illegal weapon.
Still, this information in no way justifies his death or the actions of the officers, and we do not know whether the officers involved knew this information about Alton before shooting him.
And then there’s this comparison to the controversial Brock Turner rape trial:
His girlfriend has been released from police custody, and is sharing her account of the events. “I want justice,” she said. “He [the policeman] should not be home with his family, he should be somewhere in jail, handcuffed.
These incidents are just continuations of situations we have already seen: Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown. The Department of Justice has already announced it will lead a civil rights investigation into Alton Sterling’s death, and the two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
— King Jae (@llcooljae13) July 7, 2016
Diamond (Lavish) Reynolds said she wasnt released until 5 am. While Dylan Roof got BK, she and her daughter were not fed. #PhilandoCastile
— (((Magic & Real))) (@DarlingEbony) July 7, 2016