The convenience-store owner who witnessed the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling last week is alleging in a lawsuit that Baton Rouge police officers illegally took surveillance footage from his store.
Abdullah Muflahi, who owns the Triple S Food Mart where Sterling was shot, alleges that police also confiscated his mobile phone and detained him in a police car for four hours, according to The Daily Beast.
Muflahi claims in the lawsuit that, after the shooting, officers Howie Lake and Blane Salamoni had two other police officers remove the “entire store security system” despite Muflahi’s demands to see a search warrant.
An authorised warrant was filed on Monday, according to the report, but it contradicts Muflahi’s version of the timeline. It suggests that Lt. Robert Cook waited five hours after Sterling was shot before applying for the warrant, which was immediately approved by Commissioner Quintillis Lawrence.
“The timeline definitely doesn’t add up,” Joel Porter, Muflahi’s attorney, told The Daily Beast.
Reviewing the security-camera footage could prove what time police initiated the seizure. But the lawsuit claims that police took not just the footage but the system’s hard drive itself, making it impossible to disprove their timeline. Porter said that the seizure of the hard drive exceeded the warrant’s authority.
The police then allegedly took Muflahi’s mobile phone, which he had used to record the shooting, and detained him in the back of a police car, according to the lawsuit. Muflahi claims that police prevented him from calling his parents or a lawyer and was let out only to relieve himself.
“The officers would not allow Mr. Muflahi to use the restroom inside of his business establishment and 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,” the lawsuit states, according to the report.
Muflahi has maintained that he didn’t see Sterling reach for his gun before he was repeatedly shot. Sterling’s death, along with the recent shooting death of Philando Castile at the hands of police in Minnesota, has sparked protests around the country.
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