Officer Howie Lake II has been identified as one of the police officers put on paid administrative leave after the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
Sterling was killed early Tuesday morning outside a convenience store. The other officer has been named as Officer Blane Salamoni. The shooting was caught on video by a witness, and has spread across the Internet, leading to protests and outrage on social media.
Sterling was shot and killed about 12:35 a.m. Tuesday, The Advocate reports.
He was selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart, at the corner of Fairfields Avenue and North Foster Drive, WAFB-TV reports.
The officers had responded to a disturbance call in which the caller said someone had been threatening him with a gun, police told the news station.
Baton Rouge Police have released few details about the shooting, including whether Sterling was armed. But a witness told The Advocate that Sterling did have a gun, but was not holding it or reaching for his pockets during the incident.
The officers, who were interviewed Wednesday, both said they “believe they were completely justified in using deadly force,” East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said at a press conference.
The story is still developing and will be updated when more information about the officers is made available. Here’s what we know so far about the officer, Sterling and the shooting:
1. Lake Was Placed on Leave in 2014 After He Shot a Suspect
Officer Howie Lake II is a three-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department. He is a member of the uniform patrol division.
Lake, 28, was put on administrative leave in 2014 after he was one of six officers who shot a 28-year-old man, Kevin Knight, WAFB-TV reported at the time. Knight survived the shooting.
According to police, the officers shot Knight after he fired at them.
Lake won a “life saving” award in 2015, according to the department’s Facebook page.
He attended Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge, graduating in 2006. He then played college football, as an offensive lineman, at Louisiana College. Lake is married.
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2. The 48-Second Video Shows the Moments Leading Up to the Shooting
The brief video, which you can watch above, shows the end of the incident. In the video, an officer can be heard yelling “get on the ground,” out of the view of the cell phone camera. As the camera pans up, an officer is seen charging at Alton Sterling, grabbing him and tackling him into the hood of a car and then down to the pavement.
Another officer can then be seen kneeling on Sterling. After a few seconds one of the officers yells, “He’s got a gun!” The officer seen in the video kneeling on Sterling draws his weapon and one of them says, “if you f*cking move, I swear to God!”
Two shots can then be heard and the bystander drops the cell phone. Three more shots are then fired after a brief pause.
The store’s owner, Abdullah Muflahi, told The Advocate that Sterling was armed, but said he was not holding his gun or touching his pockets during the incident, the Advocate reports. The gun was later found in his pocket, Muflahi told the newspaper. Police have not confirmed his version of events.
You can watch video of Muflahi talking about what he saw during the shooting, recorded by a reporter for The Advocate, below:
Muflahi told The Advocate that Sterling began carrying a gun after he was mugged. He said a Taser was used by the officers on Sterling, but it did not bring him to the ground. The sound of the stun gun can be heard at the start of the video.
Sterling was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting, the Baton Rouge Police Department said in a press release.
An autopsy was conducted later Tuesday. He died of multiple gunshot wounds to the back and chest, the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office told WBRZ-TV.
The wounds to the back were entrance wounds, the coroner told Heavy.com.
3. Salamoni Is a 4-Year Veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Force
Officer Blane Salamoni is a four-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department, authorities said.
Salamoni, 28, works in the uniform patrol division. His wife is a local EMT.
Like Lake, Salamoni won a “life saving” award in 2015, according to the department’s Facebook page.
Salamoni graduated from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge in 2006, according to the school’s website. He then graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2010.
His father, Captain Noel Salamoni, is the commander of the Baton Rouge department’s Special Operations Division and was a finalist for the city’s police chief job in 2013. His mother, Melissa, is a retired police captain.
4. The Officers’ Body Cameras ‘Fell Off’ During the Incident
The investigation into the shooting has been turned over to the FBI, the Baton Rouge Police Department said.
Police said in a statement on Facebook that the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
In addition to the witness video, police said they have surveillance video from the convenience store and dash camera video from police vehicles.
The officers were wearing body cameras, but they fell off during the incident, State Representative Denise Marcelle told WAFB-TV. She said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. told her about the cameras falling off, and said they do not show the shooting as a result.
Sterling’s family has called for all other video showing the shooting to be released, while police have asked any witnesses who recorded video to turn it over to them to aid in the investigation.
5. The Shooting Has Led to Protests in Baton Rouge
A large crowd of protesters, including Sterling’s family members and friends, gathered at the scene of the shooting throughout the day Tuesday, with the group growing at night, according to reporters at the scene.
The protesters briefly shut down traffic:
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden told the news station there will be a thorough investigation.
“This is not going to be a cover up,” Holden said.
Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat who represents the 2nd District of Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, has called for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in a statement released early Wednesday morning:
The video footage released today of the shooting of Alton Sterling by officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department was deeply troubling and has understandably evoked strong emotion and anger in our community,” said Rep. Richmond. “I share in this anger and join the community in the pursuit of justice. My prayers and thoughts are with Mr. Sterling’s family as they deal with this tragedy.”
There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding Mr. Sterling’s death. Including questions about the initial calls for police presence, the level of force used by officers, the verbal and physical altercation, and the response of the officers after he was shot. I call on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a full and transparent investigation into this incident. The cause of justice requires state and local law enforcement to join in this request as soon as possible.
“I ask the leaders and citizens of Baton Rouge to join me in demonstrating our anger with dignity and demanding proper focus on our cause with perseverance,” Richmond said. “His family and the citizens of Baton Rouge–especially the citizens of North Baton Rouge–deserve answers and that is what we will seek in a fair, thorough, and transparent way.”