LDF Responds to Tragic Shooting Death of Alton Sterling

Last night, graphic footage taken by a witness’s cell phone and circulated widely online, showed Alton Sterling, 37, being shot multiple times outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as two police officers pinned him to the ground. Peaceful protests against police brutality and excessive use of force have already begun in Baton Rouge and Mr. Sterling’s family, state lawmakers, civic leaders and the local NAACP branch have called for an independent criminal investigation into this fatal shooting. Mr. Sterling is the 558th person to be killed by police this year. The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into his death.

“The officers’ actions in the death of Alton Sterling are profoundly disturbing,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “We cannot be numb to the relentless police-involved assaults and killings of people of color. Mr. Sterling’s death is horrific to witness and follows an increasingly long line of unjustified police shootings of civilians. We send our sincere condolences to his family, and join the call for a transparent investigation of the shooting, including the release of any surveillance, dash-cam, or police body-worn camera video.”

LDF will closely monitor this incident and continue its call for unbiased and responsible policing by advancing policies and practices that require:

  • Annual collection, disaggregation, and public reporting of arrests; use-of-force; and pedestrian and traffic stop data;
  • Training on implicit bias, de-escalation, use of force, adolescent development, and proper interactions with persons with mental illness and other disabilities;
  • Enforcement of these trainings through close monitoring of police conduct and the imposition of disciplinary actions or retraining; and
  • Timely investigation and resolution of civilian complaints against police.


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.