The owner of the Baton Rouge, La., convenience store in front of which Alton Sterling was fatally gunned down by police is suing the city and the police department, WAFB reports.
Abdullah Muflahi is accusing authorities of illegally taking him into custody and confiscating the entire security system of his store without a warrant. The suit names Police Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, who were involved in the shooting of Sterling; Police Chief Carl Dabadie; the city of Baton Rouge; and Baton Rouge Police Officers Timothy Ballard and Robert Cook.
Muflahi—who allowed Sterling to sell CDs outside his store—witnessed how police officers approached Sterling, first using a Taser before tackling him to the ground. Muflahi started to record the incident with his cellphone, capturing the moment when Sterling was fatally shot, the station notes.
The lawsuit claims that Muflahi was put into the back of a Baton Rouge Police Department unit for about four hours after Salamoni and Lake told other officers to take him into custody, despite the fact that he was merely a witness. The lawsuit says Muflahi never broke any laws.
Muflahi also claims that after Sterling's death, Salamoni, Ballard and Cook illegally confiscated his entire security system and surveillance without a warrant. Muflahi said his cellphone was also illegally seized without permission or a warrant, rendering him unable to call his family or attorney.
Muflahi was apprehended for another two hours at the Louisiana State Police headquarters, where he said he was questioned about the shooting.
"At all times defendants knew the plaintiff Muflahi was only a witness to the events at his store and that being a witness did not entitle police to hold Plaintiff in custody or seize or commandeer his store and equipment," the lawsuit states.
Court records show that an affidavit for a search warrant for Muflahi's Triple S Food Mart was signed by Cook on the morning of July 5 and filed with East Baton Rouge Parish on July 11.
According to the report, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said that there is no law requiring search warrants to be filed within a certain time frame, adding that even though the warrant was filed into record on Monday, officers were not required to have the warrant in hand before seizing the surveillance system.
As it stands, the investigation into Sterling's death was handed over to the FBI on July 6. Moore recused himself from the case Monday, saying that he would ask the Louisiana Attorney General's Office to take the case or hand it to another prosecutor. However, until the federal investigation has been concluded, the case will not be moving forward.
Read more at WAFB.