Family members of a 37-year-old black man fatally shot by police in Baton Rouge, La. broke down in tears Wednesday as they mourned the loss of a father and pledged to fight for justice.
Supporters of Alton Sterling, who was killed early Tuesday while police apparently pinned him down outside a convenience store, called for the police chief to be fired or resign and urged residents to boycott the local mall after the fatal shooting.
“I, for one, will not rest or not allow him to be swept in the dirt,” said Quinyetta McMillon, 31, the mother of Sterling’s 15-year-old son. The teenager, Cameron Sterling, sobbed loudly and was overcome with emotion as his mother spoke at a news conference.
Sterling’s death, which sparked protests in Baton Rouge, was caught in a graphic video, which was widely shared on social media. The footage appears to show two officers approaching Sterling outside of a convenience store. One officer appears to tackle him over the hood of the car, then both pounce on him, apparently to restrain him on the pavement.
“As this video has been shared across the world, you will see with your own eyes how he was handled unjustly and killed without regard for the lives that he helped raise,” McMillon, who is not married to Sterling, told reporters.
“As a mother, I have now been forced to raise a son who is going to remember what happened to his father that I can’t take away from him,” she added. “He is at an age of understanding. I hurt more for him and his loss.”
McMillon wept as she said the greatest failure as a parent is “to see your child hurt and know there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Michael McClanahan, head of the NAACP in Baton Rouge, called for Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. to be fired. “He must step down. We cannot have anybody who allows this type of action to take place,” he said.
Dabadie said at a news conference that he would not resign and said those who are asking for him to step down from his post were “acting off emotion.” “I’m not retiring. I’m not resigning,” he added later. “I don’t think it’s fair for people to act out of emotion. We have done a lot of good in this community. We’re working diligently to bring the truth out.”
Abdul Rashid Muhammad, who leads the local chapter of the Nation of Islam, urged supporters to boycott the Louisiana mall, starting Friday “until we get justice.” “Let’s withhold our money,” he said. “Don’t spend anything.”
Sandra Sterling, the aunt of the slain man who raised him, said she was grateful for the unknown bystander who recorded the video but that she was “very disturbed” and “hurt” at what she saw in the footage. “It’s a horrible thing to happen to him,” she told reporters Wednesday. “He didn’t deserve that.”