On Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel-Edwards announced that the US Department of Justice will investigate the killing of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man shot to death by Baton Rouge police. Sterling is the 11th person to be killed by police in Louisiana in 2016, according to a database maintained by the Guardian. There have now been 38 people killed by Louisiana cops since January 2015, the data shows. Of those 38 killed, 21 were black. Louisiana ranked 10th in police-involved killings per capita in 2015, behind the District of Columbia, Wyoming, and New Mexico, which topped the list last year.
Protesters gathered outside the convenience store where Sterling was killed shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
A hundred + people gathered to pray outside store where Alton Sterling shot. “Let’s have respect for his family.” pic.twitter.com/fGBbJYPTB4
— Bryn Stole (@BrynStole) July 6, 2016
Outcry has erupted on social media since cell phone footage of the killing emerged online. The footage appears to show Sterling being Tased by an officer who orders him to the ground. Another officer grabs Sterling and forces him to the ground, and after one of the officers yells “gun,” several shots ring out, though the shooting itself isn’t clearly depicted in the footage.
Several media outlets have been tracking officer-involved shootings since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 thrust the issue into the national spotlight. Nationally, the tallies differ depending on the database: The Counted, from the Guardian, shows that there have been 558 people killed in altercations with police so far in 2016, mostly but not exclusively involving firearms. The Washington Post, which looks specifically at fatal shootings, found that 505 people have been shot to death by law enforcement this year nationwide, 122 of whom were black. Last year, 1,146 people were killed by police, with black people killed at twice the rate of white, Hispanic and Native Americans, according to the Guardian. (The outlet’s data since January 2015 accounts for three deaths by Taser.) The Washington Post determined that 990 people were fatally shot by police last year, 258 of whom were black.