The Justice Department Will Open an Investigation into the Police Shooting Death of Alton Sterling

Sterling was shot by Baton Rouge police shortly after midnight on Tuesday.


Louisiana Governor John Bel-Edwards announced Wednesday morning that the Department of Justice’s civil rights division will open an investigation into the police shooting death of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man shot multiple times by a Baton Rouge police officer early Tuesday morning.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Louisiana will assist the investigation, Bel-Edwards said.

The governor also called for calm after a night of protests. “The video is disturbing to say the least,” Bel-Edwards said, but “another violent act or destruction of property is not the answer. One family has already been torn apart.”

Sterling was shot shortly after midnight on Tuesday after a person told police a man selling CDs outside a convenience store had allegedly pointed a gun at another person.

Video of the encounter, captured by a bystander in the store’s parking lot, appears to show Sterling being tased twice by an officer who then orders him to the ground after he doesn’t respond to the Taser. Another officer tackles him to the ground, then several shots are heard after an officer yells “Gun!” A gun was later recovered from Sterling’s pocket, according to police officials.

The incident was also captured by the convenience store’s surveillance cameras. Police confiscated the video and the store’s entire surveillance system, the store’s owner told the Baton Rogue local paper, the Advocate. A police official said the officers’ body cameras fell off during the incident.

More than 100 people gathered at the intersection near the convenience store where Sterling was shot late Tuesday night. Among the protesters was Baton Rouge NAACP president Mike McClanahan. McClanahan called for the resignation of the Baton Rouge police chief during a press conference with Sterling’s family Wednesday morning.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


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.


Support our journalism

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


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.