The convenience store owner who captured Alton Sterling’s death on video said police stole the surveillance video from his store, took his cellphone and locked him in a car for four hours.
Abdullah Muflahi, who owns the Baton Rouge Triple S Food Mart where Sterling was killed on July 5, claims that police confiscated his phone and locked him in the car, in a lawsuit filed with the Baton Rouge district court.
Sterling, a 37-year-old black father of five, was tackled and wrestled onto the hood of a car, then the pavement, by two police officers around 12:35 a.m. The officers fired five shots at Sterling, who was hit once in the chest and once in the back.
In a 42-second cellphone video taken by Muflahi, one of the two officers takes a gun from Sterling’s right pocket, despite earlier reports that the man had pulled the gun on the officers.
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According to the lawsuit, police took surveillance equipment and video from the Triple S Food Mart without a warrant, as well as Muflahi’s cellphone with the video of the shooting.
The store owner was then locked in the back of the police car for four hours, he said.
“I felt like a criminal at the time, and there’s one of the detectives that I knocked on the window and told him it was really hot and I asked if I could sit outside by the car. And he just got really angry and started saying ‘you need to chill the f–k out until we get this because we’re handling something right now,’” Muflahi told the Daily News.
“It wasn’t right and I shouldn’t have been treated like I was the one who shot the guy. They didn’t handcuff me or read me any rights. They just put me in the back of a car. The seat was really hot and it felt like I was sitting on hot coals.”
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Muflahi also claims that he wasn’t allowed to use the restroom inside his store, but was rather forced to relieve himself on the side of the building with an officer escort.
The store owner then said he was taken to police headquarters, where he spent two hours and was not allowed to call his parents or lawyer.
“They act like this is a police state, like it’s North Korea, like they can do this without impunity.”
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Muflahi’s lawsuit is seeking damages for false arrest, false imprisonment, the illegal taking and seizing of his security system and illegally commandeering his business. Officers Blane Salamoni, Howie Lake, Robert Cook and Timothy Ballard, as well as the city of Baton Rouge and Police Chief Carl Dabadi are all named in the suit.
“This was done in order to intimidate my client,” Porter told the News.
“They did not want him to tell the truth.”