Alton Sterling Is the 38th Person Killed by Louisiana Cops Since 2015

The state has a relatively high rate of officer-involved shootings.


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.

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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.