The Right Reverend Morris K. Thompson, Jr., has responded with a statement to the Baton Rouge shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, killed by two police officers outside a convenience store. The statement, in full:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
As I turned on the television yesterday evening, my heart sank as I listened to the story of Alton Sterling being shot by two police officers in Baton Rouge. I have found myself deeply disturbed by the video of this encounter and while many details need to be sorted through, I continue to wonder why this situation unfolded in the manner that it did.
This tragic act in our community is profoundly upsetting and my heart mourns for all involved. During this time, I ask you to pray for the soul of Alton Sterling and for the consolation of his loved ones; for these police officers and their families; and for peace in the city of Baton Rouge, our state of Louisiana, and throughout our country.
Over the course of this past day I have recalled Dr. King’s words that “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
May we do our best to be a source of light and love in this time of pain, confusion and darkness.
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of Louisiana
A summary of what is known so far, from a CNN report last updated at 6:37 ET today:
• The officers involved in Tuesday’s shooting — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II — have been placed on administrative leave. A police incident report says Sterling was shot by one of the officers but doesn’t specify which.• The U.S. attorney’s office in Baton Rouge, the FBI and state police also will be involved in the investigation, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
• “I don’t plan on resigning,” police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said in response to calls for him to step down. “We have done a lot of good in this community. We have worked very hard in this community. Do we have an issue right now? Yes. But we are working right now to bring the truth out.”• The chief vowed authorities would conduct a transparent and independent investigation. “Like you, there is a lot that we do not understand, and at this point, like you, I am demanding answers,” Dabadie said. “Like you all, my prayers are with this community, and especially with the family and loved ones of Mr. Sterling, and all the members of the Baton Rouge Police Department.”• Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden defended his city’s response to Sterling’s death, noting that officials had been discussing the importance of conducting an independent investigation from the outset. “It’s not like we need to be hand-held and spoon-fed when it comes to doing what’s right,” Holden said. The mayor described Baton Rouge as an “inclusive community” with top-ranked police, fire and emergency medical services. “We have a wound right now, but we’ll be healing, and making this city and parish whole again,” he said.• Authorities urged people to be peaceful if they protest the shooting.