Without the video, officers involved in shooting likely would receive less scrutiny
When the term “citizen journalism” was coined few people thought bystanders would be filming police officers fatally shooting citizens. Yet it is happening with alarming regularity, including early Wednesday morning in Baton Rouge, La.
A bystander filmed two Baton Rouge police officers attempting to detain Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, after a call to police “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” outside the Triple S Food Mart, a convenience store.
The video quickly went viral across the Internet and also sparked peaceful protests in Baton Rouge. The graphic video shows two officers tackling Sterling when he apparently refused their commands to get on the ground. During the scuffle, one officer appears to shoot Sterling multiple times.
Sterling’s death is the latest in a string of fatal police shootings captured on video across the country.
Facts in this case are still unclear, but commentators on national television were quick to point out that without the cellphone video there would be no reason to even suspect the police of wrongdoing. But because of the video there will be an extensive investigation.
Some state lawmakers have tried to make filming the police illegal, but have not been successful. A citizen journalist must keep his distance and not interfere with police, but the act of filming the police in a public area is not a violation.