Alton Sterling Arrest Record Media Won’t Tell You About-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Reports that the media has ignored the fact that Alton Sterling had a lengthy criminal record before he was fatally shot by a police officer in Baton Rouge on July 5th.
It’s true that Alton Sterling had a lengthy criminal record, but many national media outlets have covered or noted his previous arrests.
Alton Sterling was convicted of criminal charges 20 times from 1996 to 2009. Those charges included robbery, aggravated burglary, resisting an officer, as well as multiple gun and drug charges. Heavy has put together criminal complaints for all of those cases that can be viewed here.
And, in addition to the charges that Alton Sterling was convicted of, nearly 20 additional charges filed against Sterling from 1996 to 2016 had been dismissed.
Two cases in particular have stood out in the wake of Sterling’s death. In a 2009 case, Sterling resisted arrest and the officer reported, “wresting with the defendant on the ground,” until a “black semi auto gun fell from his waistband” and Sterling was detained without further incident.
In another case, an officer reported in a probable cause affidavit that he pulled Sterling over for driving 65 mph in a 45 mph zone and found that he did not have proof of insurance. The office let Sterling collect his belongings from the car, and as he walked away, Sterling reportedly said he would “have the officers’ badge and jobs” and that they should “go ahead and beat him down regardless of the outcome” before he lied down in the street.
Also, it’s been noted that Sterling was a registered sex offender, and the offense description was listed as “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” in an online database of sex offenders in Louisiana.
Alton Sterling’s lengthy criminal history has lead to reports from conservative commentators like Allen B. West have argued that liberals, media outlets and those protesting Sterling’s death don’t want you know about his past and have largely ignored it.
However, a quick check of media reports does no support the idea that the media shied away from, or failed to report, Sterling’s run-ins with the law. The Washington Post, for example, published an extensive profile on Sterling’s troubled past. The piece begins:
BATON ROUGE — Alton Sterling, the black man whose point-blank shooting by white police set off a fresh round of national protest against police aggression against black people, was born and raised in this impoverished and racially divided Louisiana state capital and barely knew a life without police in it.
His mother died when he was 14, and his father by the time he was 19, Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s oldest son, said in an interview Tuesday.
“Alton pretty much raised himself,” she said. And trouble was never far away.
Sterling, who lived a life of poverty and instability, in and out of jail, was in many ways the embodiment of an American — and particularly, a Louisianan — justice system that legal experts say is skewed heavily against black Americans and that protesters have rallied against over the past week.
The New York Times also noted Sterling’s criminal history in its early reports:
Mr. Sterling had a long criminal history, including convictions for battery and illegal possession of a gun, but it is not clear whether the officers knew any of that as they tried to arrest him.
The idea that the media or protestors have shied away from Sterling’s criminal record is false. Rather, as Bustle reports, his supporters argue that Sterling’s criminal past doesn’t justify police shooting him:
Sterling’s record, obviously, is not clear. But these matters are unrelated to his death. As an individual, selling CDs outside of a convenience store is not a crime for which anyone should be gunned down. And now as a symbol within a larger movement, Sterling, a black man, could have just as likely been killed unjustly, regardless of his previous record. We’ve seen it with other cases — like Trayvon Martin, who had no criminal record but saw his short 17 years on Earth dug up to be tarnished just the same.
Yet this increasingly common, explicit display of force by the officers, whose body cameras allegedly fell off during the struggle, points not so much to the individual but to a larger problem within the system: the overwhelming and systemic violence inflicted upon people of color by law enforcement in the United States.
So, it’s true that Alton Sterling had a lengthy criminal record, but it’s false that media have tried to hide or ignore that fact.
Has the media hid the fact that Alton Sterling had a long criminal record?