At 12:35 a.m., at 2112 North Foster Drive in the parking lot of Triple S Food Mart, Sterling was detained by Baton Rouge Police Department officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake. This came after an anonymous caller reported that a man was threatening him and waving a handgun while in the process of selling CDs. The officers tasered Sterling for resisting several times, then forced Sterling to the hood of a sedan and then to the ground. Sterling was pinned to the ground by both officers; one kneeling on his chest and the other on his thigh, both attempting to control his arms.
Salamoni exclaimed, “He’s going into his pockets! He’s got a gun! Gun!” Lake, pointing his gun, yelled, “Hey bro, if you fucking move, I swear to God!” Then Salamoni was heard on the video saying, “Lake, he’s going for the gun!” The camera caught Salamoni firing three shots, panning away while three more shots were fired before panning back to show Sterling’s body sprawled out. Lake was not in the picture and Salamoni was about 3 feet (0.9 m) away, with his gun drawn and pointed at Sterling, who had a gunshot wound in his chest. Sterling was shot a total of six times all within close range.
The officers retrieved a loaded .38 caliber revolver from Sterling’s front pants pocket. The officers then radioed for Emergency Medical Services.
According to Parish Coroner William Clark of East Baton Rouge, a preliminary autopsy, on July 5, indicated that Sterling had died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and back.
Multiple bystanders’ cell phones captured videos of the shooting as well as store surveillance cameras and officer body cameras. One of the bystander’s videos was filmed by a group called “Stop the Killing”, which listens to police scanners and films crimes in progress. They also listen to police interactions in an effort to reduce violence in the community. A second video was made available the day after the shooting by the store owner and eyewitness, who said in a statement to NBC News, “Sterling never wielded the gun or threatened the officers.”
In March 2018, the bodycam footage from the officer who shot him was released, revealing that, seconds after arriving to help the other officer already engaged in trying to detain Sterling, he pulled his gun and threatened to shoot Sterling if he moved.