The man who made the video of the Alton Sterling shooting death go viral, one of two brutal videos from two states that sparked a national outrage and led to the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers during an anti-police brutality protest Thursday – was arrested 24 hours later.
Chris LeDay believes it was an act of retaliation.
Considering police handcuffed and leg-shackled him after accusing him of assault and battery – only to jail him overnight for unpaid traffic fines – it certainly appears that way.
Especially considering his arrest took place 24 hours after he had posted the video on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where it instantly went viral.
LeDay, 34, lives in Georgia, but was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the shooting took place early Tuesday morning, so he learned of the video through friends back home but it wasn’t getting much exposure.
At the time, the story – without the video – was being reported in the local news and was already generating controversy because the store owner was saying the shooting was unjustified and the coroner was saying he was shot several times in the front and back.
And the cops were saying their body cams had fallen off, so there was no video of the shooting.
But because he is very active on social media with almost 13,000 Instagram followers, more than 6,000 Twitter followers and almost 2,000 Facebook friends, he offered to post it on his social media platforms in order to get the word out to a much larger audience. He even tagged his local television news station on the Facebook post, hoping it would pick it up.
“I wanted everybody to see this video,” LeDay said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime. “I wanted it to go viral. The police were already saying their body cams fell off and I wanted to show there was video of the shooting.”
So he posted the video on all three social media platform Tuesday evening, where it began getting shared numerous times, including by Shaun King of the New York Daily News, who uploaded the video on his Facebook less than an hour after LeDay had posted it on his Facebook page.
And by midnight Tuesday, the story was picked up by several more news sites, including PINAC, which posted it at 11:05 p.m.
By Wednesday morning, the story was being reported on several major national news sites. And by Wednesday afternoon, it was picked up internationally, so he had fulfilled his goal of making the video go viral.
However, that evening as he walked into his job as an aerospace ground equipment technician at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, going through the usual security checkpoint he had been going through for the month he had been working there, he was not allowed walk through.
Instead, he was detained by at least ten military police officers with guns, including a few with M-16s, all of them surrounding him in case he tried to make a run for it.
He managed to use his phone to inform his Facebook friends that he was being detained, but he wasn’t sure for what.
He didn’t dare record them, knowing those MP’s with their M-16s would not hesitate to use them.
They eventually told him he was wanted on a warrant for assault and battery and escorted him into a back room where he was handcuffed and forced to wait for Dunwoody police to come pick him up, the local police department who had this alleged warrant out for his arrest.
When the Dunwoody police officer arrived to transport him to jail, the warrant did not say anything about an assault and battery charge.
“It was just over some traffic tickets from a couple of years ago,” he said. “They said my license was suspended.”
And he acknowledges that he did not pay the fines, allowing his license to be suspended, but he also says he does not even drive anymore.
“At the time, I couldn’t afford it, then I was just being stubborn about it,” he said.
“But I take Uber to work anyway. Even one of the cops on the base said he sees me getting dropped off for work.”
But that did not stop the Dunwoody cop from leading him out of the base in handcuffs and leg shackles.
“It was embarrassing,” he said. “This happening in 2016.”
But the cop told him it was for his safety; LeDay not having paid his traffic fines and all.
He ended up spending 26 hours in the Dekalb County Jail and was released only after paying the $1,231 fine for his unpaid traffic fines.
Otherwise, he would have had to wait until the following Wednesday to see the judge, who apparently only drops by once-a-week.
LeDay was worried that he would lose his job because his boss had seen him getting arrested but when he told him it was for unpaid traffic tickets, his boss just laughed it off, saying they don’t care about stuff like that.
But his boss did say they had been concerned that he had omitted an assault and battery arrest on his security clearance form, which would have been immediate grounds for dismissal.
Even though he believes somebody in law enforcement was trying to get him fired in retaliation for posting the video, he said he is not going to stop speaking out against police abuse.
“We need to diffuse what the cops are doing,” he said. “They want to say that not all cops are bad but they are not speaking out against the bad cops.
“It just keeps getting worse and people are getting tired of it. I just want some change to occur.”