The owner of the North Foster Drive convenience store where police fatally shot Alton Sterling alleged Monday in a lawsuit that Baton Rouge police came into his store and confiscated the store’s entire security system — including the video surveillance — and took him into custody.
Triple S Food Mart owner Abdullah Muflahi alleges in the state court lawsuit that police also commandeered his cellphone in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Sterling, whom Muflahi allowed to sell CDs and DVDs outside his shop for several years.
Muflahi says he was illegally detained without an arrest warrant in the back of a police car for four hours, during which time he was escorted to the side of the building to urinate “right there within arm distance of a BRPD officer and in full view of the public.”
Police then drove him to the Louisiana State Police headquarters, where, Muflahi alleges, he was illegally detained for two more hours while detectives questioned him.
A Baton Rouge police spokesman said the agency could not comment about ongoing litigation.
Joel Porter, one of the attorneys representing Muflahi, said officers never provided the store owner with a copy of the search warrant for the store’s surveillance video. Muflahi is also being represented by Stephen Irving.
The warrant, signed by Commissioner Quintillis Lawrence five hours after Sterling was shot, was filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office on Monday.
But Porter, reached by phone, noted that the warrant didn’t include Muflahi’s cellphone, which Porter said was taken without the shop owner’s permission. A day after the shooting, Muflahi released cellphone video he said he took of the shooting. Porter said the phone was returned to Muflahi after questioning.
“My client never gave Baton Rouge Police Department consent to search his business, seize his cellphone or to illegally detain him for six hours,” Porter said. “What’s their answer to that?”
The defendants in the suit are the city-parish government, Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. and officers Timothy Ballard and Robert Cook. Also named in the suit are Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni, the two Baton Rouge policemen involved in the fatal confrontation with Sterling.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told The Advocate last week that Salamoni shot Sterling. Police have said just one of the officers fired his gun during the incident, but they haven’t named the officer.
The suit was assigned to 19th Judicial District Court Judge William Morvant.