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08 July 2016

US protests after police shooting of black man in Louisiana

us1Protests have taken place in the US state of Louisiana after a video emerged appearing to show two white police officers holding down and shooting dead a black man.

The incident took place in the state capital, Baton Rouge, on Tuesday after reports of a man threatening people with a gun outside a shop.

A post-mortem examination showed the victim, Alton Sterling, 37, died of gunshot wounds to the chest and back.

Protests later blocked nearby roads.

The crowd of about 200 people was moved on by police but organisers say they will reassemble in front of City Hall.

The incident comes amid heightened tension in the US over the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police.

There are more than 1,000 deadly shootings by police in the US each year, and those killed are disproportionately black Americans.

Police spokesman Cpl L’Jean McKneely said the officers had been called in after reports that a man selling CDs outside a convenience store had threatened someone with a gun.

He said that the two officers involved had since been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Mr Sterling, a father of five, died at the scene.

Reporter Brittany Weiss from local TV station WBRZ told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the video footage, which emerged hours after the shooting, showed the officers having an altercation with the man in a car park.

“The police officers bring this man down to the ground and then you hear more of an altercation,” she said.

“Then you hear three gunshots and two other shots that are muffled and then you hear someone say ‘he has a gun’ during that exchange.”

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A road junction near the scene of the shooting was briefly blaocked by protesters

Abdul Muflahi, who owns a shop where the incident took place, told WAFB TV station that one officer had used a stun gun on the man but a struggle then ensued with the second officer. He said that the first officer then shot the man “four to six times”.

Mr Muflahi said the man did not appear to have a gun in his hand during the altercation although he saw officers remove a gun from the man’s pocket following the shooting. Police could not confirm his account.

Flowers and messages have been left at the scene of the shooting.

Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond said in a statement that the shooting was “a tragedy”, adding that the family of the victim and residents of Baton Rouge “deserve answers, and that is what we will seek”.

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