The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into the fatal shooting of a black man by the Baton Rouge, La., police after a searing video of the encounter, aired repeatedly on television and social media, reignited contentious issues surrounding police killings of African-Americans.
Officials from Gov. John Bel Edwards to the local police and elected officials vowed a complete and transparent investigation and appealed to the city — after a numbing series of high-profile, racially charged incidents elsewhere — to remain calm.
“I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially and professionally,” Mr. Edwards said in announcing the federal takeover of the case. “I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing, to say the least.”
Urging patience while the investigation takes place, the governor said: “I know that that may be tough for some, but it’s essential that we do that. I know that there are protests going on, but it’s urgent that they remain peaceful.”
Two white officers were arresting Alton B. Sterling, 37, early Tuesday after responding to a call about an armed man. The officers had Mr. Sterling pinned to the ground when at least one of them shot him.
The video of the shooting propelled the case to national attention, like a string of recorded police shootings before it. The shooting has prompted protests here in the Louisiana capital, including a boisterous but peaceful gathering in advance of a vigil on Wednesday night in front of the storefront where the shooting happened.
The decision to have the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the F.B.I. and the United States attorney’s office in Baton Rouge conduct the investigation was welcomed by a lawyer for Mr. Sterling’s family.
This speech by Malcolm X is over forty years old but timeless. It’s shows how nothing as changed in this racist country. They feel they can kill us with impunity. It’s time to face the reality that we live in Hell. We are still second class citizens. This killing of Alton Sterling was cold blooded murder! These low life cops shot him at close range. There is no excuse for a murder like this. Black people must realize we are in a police state. There’s no way you can deny that fact.