The brutal shooting death of Alton Sterling by a Baton Rouge police officer has, aside from possibly inciting a retaliatory attack in Dallas, incited scenes that look more like war zones than suburban America. Much of this has to do with Abdullah Muhlafi, the convenience store owner who witnessed Sterling’s confrontation with Officer Blane Salamoni. Muhlafi recorded the incident and provided The Daily Beast with a 40-second clip. Now it seems Muhlafi’s actions have landed him in hot water with the heavily militarized Baton Rouge Police Department (an outfit with a checkered past), which he claims detained him and confiscated materials from his store without a warrant.
According to The Daily Beast, not long after Muhlafi recorded what would be Sterling’s final moments, two responding officers were asked to secure the “entire store security system” and detain him throughout the process. The store owner claims he told officials on the scene he’d “like to be in the store when” they reviewed the security footage, but he was denied this request. As a result of these and many other infractions identified by Muhlafi’s legal team, he’s suing the cops who were present, the police chief, and the city of Baton Rouge.
The lawsuit stipulates that “the officers would not allow Mr. Muhlafi to use the restroom inside of his business establishment.” Why? Because “he was escorted to the side of his building and forced to relieve himself right there within arm distance of a BPRD officer and in full view of the public.” In addition, police kept Muflahi in the back of a cruiser for four hours, then held him an additional two hours at police headquarters — all the while denying him access to a phone to contact his family.
Muhlafi’s attorney, Joel Porter, is seeking damages for “false arrest, false imprisonment, the illegal taking and seizing of his security system, illegally commandeering his business.” And considering that the Baton Rouge police never filed an application for the search warrant at the time, there’s a good chance Muhlafi’s case isn’t without merit.
Though Muhlafi recorded the cell phone video and, presumably, additional footage per his store security system, he’s not the first person to be held by the authorities following Sterling’s death. Chris LeDay, a Dobbins Air Reserve Base employee in Georgia, helped the video go viral via a Facebook post. A day later, he was detained by military police because he “fit the description of someone” and later held in a county jail for 26 hours.
(Via The Daily Beast)