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.

AP

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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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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