Almost two weeks have passed since the shooting of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and police continue to stall the release of video from officer body cameras as well as the Triple S Food Mart surveillance cameras, the latter which they seized without a warrant.
Yet it took only a day for police to release still shots of Gavin Long during the moments he shot and killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers Sunday morning.
“My intention here this afternoon is to take our viewers, our public, our community, I want to walk them through exactly what they were going through” Louisiana State Police Colonel Mike Edmonston told reporters during Monday’s 2 p.m. press conference before giving a detailed account of exactly how the scene unfolded.
Authorities used still camera shots and arial photographs to walk the public through the scene, including photos of the guns used by Long. The images were posted on the Louisiana State Police Facebook page.
Meanwhile, there is still no word as to when video will be released from police body cameras and surveillance cameras that captured the Alton Sterling shooting on July 5.
Baton Rouge police reported that Sterling was shot after “uniformed officers responded to a disturbance call from a complainant who stated that a black male who was selling music CD’s and wearing a red shirt threatened him with a gun.”
But they have yet to release a recording of this call, which would shed light on the events surrounding Sterling’s death, choosing to keep it hidden from the public.
Police have also said that body cameras from the two officers involved in the Sterling shooting, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, fell off during the struggle with Sterling, but that the initial interaction was captured by the camera.
The release of this body camera video would surely shed light on the earliest moments of the confrontation between police and Sterling. It would also shed some light on the reason the officers involved in this incident chose to confront, taser and tackle someone they suspected was armed with a gun instead of ordering him down on the ground at gunpoint like we normally see in these type police calls.
Meanwhile, tensions in Louisiana’s capitol continue to rise as protesters, who have taken to the streets to speak out against the Sterling shooting, have been met with militarized police dressed in riot gear who have been making violent arrests for minor infractions.
In one incident, police charged towards a group of protesters who had taken refuge on the lawn of a local resident after police ordered them off of the sidewalk. Dozens of police dressed in riot gear and carrying assault rifles stormed the property and attacked protesters. About fifty people were arrested in the melee.
The ACLU of Louisiana along with several other state civil rights organizations filed suit last week against the police department claiming protester’s First Amendment rights were violated through excessive force, illegal arrests and verbal abuse by police.
Triple S Store owner Abdullah Muflahi also filed suit last week against the city and the police department after he was detained for several hours in the back of a patrol car the night of the Sterling shooting. Muflahi also claims that police took his surveillance system without a warrant and without his consent.
Edmonston has his own ideas about how to solve the crisis of citizen’s distrust of police including the retraining of all police officers in deescalation tactics and diversity, a suggestion he recently made at a press conference held after the Sterling shooting.
“We can do a better job with training,” Edmonson said. “We need to rewrite the whole police officers standards and curriculum nationwide. We can do a better job with that.”
And while there is a definite need for more training of police officers across the country, this will not address the lack of accountability police face for their actions – not to mention the lack of transparency.
Officers cannot be held accountable for their actions when the videos of questionable police shootings are kept from the public who has lost trust in the official police narrative.
And no amount of deescalation and diversity training will change that.
UPDATE: Louisiana State Police Master Sergeant Brooks David reached out to PINAC, after this article was posted to inform us that the state police are not involved with the Alton Sterling investigation. Brooks has said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation into the Civil Rights charges and are the agency in possession of the Sterling evidence.