A Louisiana man found dead under suspicious circumstances has been identified as a relative of Alton Sterling, a black man whose death sparked heated protests across the country after a white police officer shot him at close range.
Baton Rouge police on Thursday said firefighters were battling an automobile blaze in a vacant lot around 4 a.m. Wednesday when they discovered the body of 34-year-old Antonio “Tony” Sterling. The body, authorities said, was found in the backseat of the vehicle.
Police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. told HuffPost Antonio Sterling “is related to Alton Sterling.”
Sandra Sterling, an aunt of Alton Sterling, told the local newspaper The Advocate that Antonio and Alton Sterling are cousins. She said they were often referred to by family and friends as “the Sterling boys.”
Alton Sterling, a father of five, was fatally shot July 5, 2016, outside a Baton Rouge store where he frequently sold CDs. Bodycam footage shows Officer Howie Lake II wrestling Sterling to the ground, and later Officer Blane Salamoni shooting him multiple times at close range in the back and chest.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office last month announced it would not pursue charges against Lake or Salamoni. That decision was announced 11 months after the Justice Department, citing a lack of evidence, decided not to pursue federal civil rights charges against the officers.
Salamoni was ultimately fired over the shooting, and Lake had received a three-day suspension.
A cause of death for Antonio Sterling is unknown and pending autopsy results, Coppola said.
Anyone with information on this incident is urged to contact the Violent Crimes Unit at 225-389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867.