Department of Justice will lead investigation into Alton Sterling shooting
BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards says the Department of Justice is taking the lead on the investigation into a BRPD officer-involved shooting that took the life of a Baton Rouge man early Tuesday morning.
Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference at 10 a.m. at the Governor's Mansion. The governor says the incident will be investigated thoroughly by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. He also expressed condolences to the family and urged residents to keep all protests peaceful.
The governor said he spoke with the White House, Louisiana State Police Superintendent, District Attorney and U.S. Attorney ahead of the speaking engagement. He also confirmed he has spoken with the family of Sterling. He also said he has seen the cell phone video of the shooting.
"The video is disturbing to say the least," said Gov. Edwards.
The Governor did not specifically comment on the Baton Rouge Police Department's role in the shooting, but he did explicitly comment on the Federal government's present and future involvement in the case.
The following statement was issued by the FBI Wednesday morning:
The FBI's New Orleans Division, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana have opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Alton Sterling. The Justice Department will collect all available facts and evidence and conduct a fair, thorough and impartial investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.
Attorney General Jeff Landry says they'll be following the Federal investigation and providing all resources necessary to fulfill requests by any agency involved in the "tragic incident."
BRPD says they'll also hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at BPRD Headquarters on Airline Highway. Both conferences will be available on WBRZ's Facebook page.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, the NAACP called for Mayor Kip Holden to fire Police Chief Carl Dabadie then resign himself.
In a heated news conference by family, lawmakers and attorneys on the steps of Baton Rouge City Hall Wednesday morning, community activists called for an investigation by Louisiana State Police into the shooting death of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge Police. Those who gathered at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning promised their protests will not end until they feel justice has been served.
Local NAACP leader Michael McClanahan said the city can't have a leader who "allows this type of action to take place."
“We’re actually here today to speak to the culture of the Baton Rouge Police Department,” said Edmond Jordan, the family's attorney. “We’re going to root out the 1-percent of police officers that act as judge, jury and executioner.”
A member of Sterling's family said the man was "killed without regard for the lives that he had raised" as the man's 15-year-old son stood on the podium.
Family member: Alton Sterling 'killed without regard for the lives that he had raised.'
Overnight, there were protests on the streets around the store where Sterling was shot and killed Tuesday.
"While we wait, we must unite under the rule of law. If we gather in protest, it must be peaceful. The world is watching to see if we devolve into chaos or unite and emerge with an ever stronger commitment to justice. I have faith. I believe in the people of Baton Rouge. Let us come together now. Let us seek answers and learn the facts. And once the truth is known, we will take action - together, as one Baton Rouge," said a statement from Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado released on Wednesday morning.
Holden and Dabadie have not made public comments about the shooting which was captured on video by an eyewitness. In a phone conversation with WBRZ Tuesday, Holden said a thorough investigation will be conducted. Police are expected to discuss the situation later Wednesday.
The system should work, and the officers should be arrested, people speaking at the rally outside city hall said. A local representative of the Nation of Islam called for an economic boycott of the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge.
C. Denise Marcelle, a candidate for mayor who attended the rally, said black city leaders should demand answers and provide them.
"They shouldn't have waited this long to give us the answers that we are asking for," she said. "If you don't do that, then people continue to have questions," she said, warning that the situation could become more volatile if city officials do not start talking about the shooting.
A vigil for Sterling will be held outside of the store on North Foster Drive where he died at 6 p.m.