NEW: Affidavit: Police tried to use Tasers on Alton Sterling before Sterling reached for his gun
Louisiana store owner Abdullah Muflahi claims police seized his security footage without a warrant
The Louisiana police officers who fatally shot a black man pinned to the ground did so after seeing the man reach for a gun, a Baton Rouge detective said.
Alton Sterling’s death helped spur nationwide protests against excessive force by police. He was shot outside a convenience store after police responded to a call about a man threatening another man with a gun.
In a search warrant affidavit seeking surveillance video from the store, Detective R. Cook wrote that the Baton Rouge officers deployed their Tasers after Sterling did not comply with their orders.
“While the officers were attempting to subdue the subject the officers observed the butt of a gun in the subject’s front pants pocket,” Cook wrote.
“When the subject attempted to reach for the gun from his pockets the officers fired their police issued duty weapon at the subject to stop the threat. The subject was shot multiple times and did not survive his injuries.”
Store owner sues police
CNN obtained the search warrant affidavit after the owner of the convenience store, Abdullah Muflahi, sued Baton Rouge and its police department. Muflahi accused authorities of illegally taking him into custody and confiscating his entire security system without a warrant.
When asked about the lawsuit by CNN, Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said police would not comment on pending litigation, as is standard procedure.
The U.S. Department of Justice is leading a criminal investigation, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. The FBI and state police also will be involved, and a federal civil rights investigation will be conducted.
Any consideration of state charges would come after the results of the federal investigation, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore said.
Moore recused himself and his office from the case on Monday, citing a possible conflict of interest.
“It is my determination as district attorney that given the history of a long and close working relationship with the parents of one of the officers involved in this shooting, there would always be questions of my partiality,” Moore said.
He said the state attorney general could accept the case himself, appoint another district attorney or choose an independent prosecutor.
The deaths of Sterling and Philando Castile – both of whom were shot and killed by police – touched off massive protests in the United States.
During one of those protests Thursday in Dallas, Micah Xavier Johnson killed five Dallas police officers who were helping protect the protesters.
The carnage could have been much worse
During his hourslong standoff with police, Johnson said he was ready to kill more cops with bombs, Dallas police Chief David Brown told CNN.
“We had negotiated with him for about two hours, and he just basically lied to us – playing games, laughing at us, singing, asking how many (police officers) did he get and that he wanted to kill some more and that there were bombs there,” Brown said.
A search of the gunman’s home revealed he had plenty of supplies to make explosives. Brown said police found bomb-making materials and a journal that suggested Johnson had been practicing detonations and appeared ready to take aim at larger targets.
It was enough, Brown said, to have “devastating effects on our city.”
But other law enforcement sources said Johnson had a “small quantity” of the binary explosive components of Tannerite. Tannerite is a name-brand explosive generally used for long-range rifle target practice, when the shooter needs visual confirmation that a distant target has been hit.
Other materials that could have been used for bomb-making were also discovered, but none of the material was assembled, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said.
Among the legal materials found, the source said, was a can of acetone, two canning jars of black powder (often used for reloading ammunition), some hobby fuse and three feet of PVC pipe.
“He was possibly planning other explosives, but there was a heavy lean toward Tannerite and exploding targets,” a federal law enforcement official explained.
Investigators have learned that Johnson liked to “explode targets” by shooting at them, the official said.
Law enforcement officials say the FBI began looking into Tannerite several years ago when it became apparent domestic terrorists were interested in using it for sinister purposes. But Tannerite is difficult to turn into a weapon and more difficult than other explosives to detonate, the sources said.
He ‘liked’ a group that called for violence against police
A day before Johnson opened fire on police, the African American Defense League called for action after the death of Alton Sterling – a black man killed by police after he was already pinned to the ground.
“The Pig has shot and killed Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana!” the group’s Facebook post said. “You and I know what we must do and I don’t mean marching, making a lot of noise, or attending conventions. We must “Rally The Troops!” It is time to visit Louisiana and hold a barbeque. The highlight of our occasion will be to sprinkle Pigs Blood!”
The group also issued and then quickly deleted another post Thursday, “calling on the gangs across the nation! Attack everything in blue…”
Johnson “liked” the group’s page. He also had visited the websites of the Nation of Islam and the Black Riders Liberation Party – which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers to be hate groups.
Tom Fuentes, a former associate director with the FBI, said the messages and the groups behind them should be treated the same way the federal government investigates ISIS.
“It’s no different than the ISIS propaganda that goes out,” Fuentes said. “And the question for law enforcement is, where do you draw the line between free speech and something else? If a message is espousing someone to take action, even if they inspire one guy to strike out, isn’t that enough?”
Hundreds of statements, mountains of footage
Detectives are reviewing more than 300 statements from witnesses and officers from the scene, Brown said.