The Second Video

This is painful to watch, and it might be too much for you. But it’s a second camera angle clip of the Alton Sterling shooting, and it probably helps the police officers’ cause.

Why does it help the officers’ cause? Because the central piece of this case involves Alton Sterling’s right hand. What is he doing with that hand, and is what he’s doing a threat to the cops who are trying to arrest him?

You can’t see that hand in either the first video (see that here) or this one. But in both videos, it’s clear that both officers react the same way at the same time and the intensity of the encounter increases immediately. It’s like they both see that right hand moving at the same time.

Bear in mind, the cops know, or believe they know, that Sterling has a gun. They know this because the reason they’re on the scene is a 911 call which had Sterling threatening people with a gun. So they believe he has a weapon somewhere, and that’s why cops will always tell you “keep your hands where I can see them.” In this case his hand is under that car, so it’s not in sight of the police and therefore it’s a potential threat. If he moves it toward his pocket, that threat gets exponentially larger.

What else you’ll see is one of the police officers falling onto his back – it looks like he’s pushed over by Sterling, though you can’t tell that for certain because the camera jumps a bit following the shots. That’s a pretty amazing feat of strength for somebody who’s been shot in the heart and is bleeding like a fire hose.

We’re not saying this was a good shooting. It might not have been. But we’re not saying, despite how awful these videos are to see, that it’s a bad shooting. What’s apparent is that these two police officers were put in a life and death situation by somebody with an extensive criminal record who might well have been inebriated with high-octane narcotics and who acted extremely irresponsibly.

It would be a terrible shame if this case were to be sensationalized and blown up into a political nightmare a la Ferguson by people acting in their own selfish interests. We know that’s eminently possible based on recent history. Let’s pray we dodge that bullet in Baton Rouge this week.

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