A witness to the police-involved death of Alton Sterling has filed a lawsuit alleging that police took him into custody illegally and confiscated his store's "entire security system" without a warrant, CNN reports. Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the convenience stores where Sterling was shot and killed by police, is reportedly suing the city of Baton Rouge and its police department.
Muflahi, who owns the Triple S Mart, spoke with the Daily Beast Monday and revealed that he saw officers "confront and kill" Sterling while he was selling CDs in the parking lot. According to Muflahi's suit, he never signed a Voluntary Consent to Search Form and was held in the back of a cop car for 4 hours after officers arrived.
"The officers would not allow Mr. Muflahi to use the restroom inside of his business establishment," the suit states. "He was escorted to the side of his building and forced to relieve himself right there within arm distance of a BRPD officer and in full view of the public." Muflahi names Officer Blane Salamoni, Officer Howie Lake, Lt. Robert Cook, Officer Timothy Ballard, the City of Baton Rouge, and Chief of Police Carl Dabadie in the suit. He is seeking damages for "false arrest, false imprisonment, the illegal taking and seizing of his security system, illegally commandeering his business," the Daily Beast reports.
As for the dispute over the warrant filing, attorney Joel Porter said the officers' timeline "definitely' doesn't add up. 6 days after Sterling was killed, police filed the required search warrant and affidavit. The warrant reportedly "suggests" that Cook waited 5 hours to begin investigations at the Triple S Mart before obtaining permission to search for the surveillance footage.
"The warrant gives the Baton Rouge Police Department the authority to search the surveillance video on recording device," Porter added. "It doesn't give them the authority to seize the device." The Baton Rouge Police Department did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.
The Justice Department has since opened a civil rights investigation into Sterling's death, with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards telling NBC News he has "full confidence" that the investigation will move forward "impartially and professionally." Peaceful protests surrounding the death of Sterling, and the subsequent police killing of Philando Castile in Minnesota, have persisted across the nation.
"As we have done for decades, we marched and protested to highlight the urgent need to transform policing in America, to call for justice, transparency and accountability, and to demand that Black Lives Matter," Black Lives Matter activists said in a statement last week.