Store Owner: Police Stole Surveillance Footage of Themselves Executing Alton Sterling

Sabrina Canfield | Courthouse News Service

NEW ORLEANS (CN) – The owner of the store where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police claims in a lawsuit that he was held for several hours without cause or a warrant while officers searched his store and confiscated the surveillance system.

Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of Triple S Food Mart, said in a complaint filed in the East baton Rouge District Court, that the 37-year-old Sterling had his permission to be on the property.

He said that at 12:35 a.m. on July 5, he was watching the video monitors from his security system inside his store when he saw a police car pull into the parking lot.

Muflahi claims he was curious about why the police would be at his store, and that he went outside to meet them.

According to the complaint, as he came out of the door to the parking lot, Muflahi saw police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake “enter into an altercation with a man named Alton Sterling,” the lawsuit said.

As the cops began to Taser Sterling and knocked him to the ground, Muflahi took out his phone and began to shoot video.

Salamoni shot Sterling multiple times as Muflahi continued to film.

“Immediately after the killing of Mr. Sterling, Officer Salamon, BRPD came inside Triple S Food Mart and without a warrant confiscated the entire store security system” and took Muflahi into custody, the complaint says.

As other police officers arrived on the scene, Salomoni and Lake instructed them to hold Mulfahi in custody.

The officers illegally placed Muflahi in custody, confiscated his cell phone and locked him in the back of a police car for approximately four hours, during which time he was prevented from calling his family or contacting an attorney, the complaint says.

Muflahi says he was only released from the police car after repeatedly telling police he needed to use the bathroom, and even then, the court documents say, he was not allowed into the store to use it but was forced to pee on the side of the building, in plain public view.

During the four hours Muflahi was detained, police illegally confiscated all of the store’s security equipment along with the surveillance system, and Muflahi was prevented from entering the store for six hours while police stayed inside, without a warrant.

Muflahi says he was then driven to Louisiana State Police headquarters where he was kept behind locked doors for another two hours, and where he was questioned about the shooting he witnessed.

“Defendant Debadie as the chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department is responsible for the training of the police officer defendants and all police officers involved,” the lawsuit said. “He has provided inadequate training to his officers as to what constitutes grounds to confront, arrest or detain citizens and has negotiated a contract with a union representing police officers that provides a blanket indemnification for police officers who are sued by public from all claims no matter what the circumstances under which the claims arise and further provides that meritorious complaints about police officers are purged from employment files after only 18 months. Both contract provisions encourage aggressive conduct by police officers by minimizing consequences.”

The lawsuit was filed by Joel Porter of New Orleans and Stephen Irving of Baton Rouge.

Representatives of the Baton Rouge police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Published by Courthouse News Service.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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