Interview with Store Proprietor Abdullah Muflahi on Alton Sterling:

“You can’t bring this young man back... He has five kids now who will grow up without a father”

July 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Abdullah Muflahi with his attorney Joel Porter
Abdullah Muflahi with his attorney Joel Porter

On July 5, two Baton Rouge police shot and killed Alton Sterling while they had him pinned to the ground in front of the Triple S Mart. They murdered him—setting off a wave of protests that continue to sweep the country. One video of the killing was taken by Abdullah Muflahi, proprietor of the Triple S Mart. In what can only be construed to be an outrageous, lawless attempt to cover up evidence and terrorize a witness, Baton Rouge police stole surveillance video from Abdullah Muflahi’s store without a warrant, stole his cell phone, locked him inside a car for hours, and detained him at a police station. Despite that, Abdullah Muflahi, has continued to expose what happened to Alton Sterling, and to speak out in national news against attempts to dehumanize or excuse the murder of Alton Sterling. This week, Abdullah Muflahi and his attorney Joel Porter filed a lawsuit against Baton Rouge police and officials over what happened to him after the murder of Alton Sterling.

Our correspondent in Baton Rouge spoke with Abdullah Muflahi twice, while Muflahi was accompanied by his attorney Joel Porter. The following is from those interviews.

Revolution: What happened on the night of July 4/early July 5?

Abdullah Muflahi: It was after midnight. I saw two cops pulling into the parking lot ... two cop cars. Well I decided to see what was going on. When I got out there they were already slamming Mr. Sterling on the car. They tasered him, tackled him onto another vehicle, and then that’s when it escalated to the officer shooting him.

If they would have talked to him—just what the hell was going on—there would have never been any resistance from him. But he was so confused. He kept asking them what did I do wrong? His question was never answered at all. He never threatened them. He never pulled out a gun on them. A gun never came out visible until they pulled it out of his pocket after they shot him six times.

Revolution: What happened to you after the police shot and killed Alton Sterling?

Abdullah Muflahi: One of the officers that was involved in the shooting grabbed me by my arms and pushed me toward another cop and told him to contain me and put me in a cop car. I was outside the whole time. I was maybe not even three feet away...and ... They put me in the back of a cop car for almost four to five hours. It was very hot. They wouldn’t even let me get a bottle of water. The only bottle of water that my brother had was one that was hot. And it was hot all over. And I was laying inside the car.

I wanted to go to the bathroom. They told me to wait a second and they had a cop escort me behind one of these neighboring buildings to use it out there. I had to go outside. I never felt at any time like I was free to leave the car or free to go anywhere. [Later at the Baton Rouge police station] They put me in a room by myself. When they would open it, I would hear them locking a lock. I didn’t think it was an unlocked door ... I didn’t feel like I could step out and get a cup of water or anything...

Baton Rouge police killing of Alton Sterling
Baton Rouge police killing of Alton Sterling. (AP photo)

Revolution: Let’s go back to the shooting—what happened after police shot Alton Sterling?

Abdullah Muflahi: They called shots fired. Police cars rushed in within a few moments. He was laying there after they shot him. One cop had said something that I didn’t hear, but the cop closer to me was like, “No fuck it ... fuck him, just leave him. Let him lay there.” That’s why he was just laying there dying. They just left him there dying. They didn’t do anything to try to help him. No CPR. No trying to hold the blood... stop the bleeding... to hold pressure on the wound. Nothing. Not anything like that. He was like, “No. Just let him lay there.”

Revolution: And then later...

Abdullah Muflahi: They went into my office. They went inside my store. And the whole time they were in there, I don’t know what they were doing in there. They were in there for a little over two hours. I told them I needed to be inside the store, I needed to be present inside of the store if they are going to walk inside the store. They said they were going to work on getting a search warrant and they were going to bring it to me and take my DVR but they never did. They told me they had it ready but they never brought it to me at all. I mean they didn’t talk to me about it or nothing.

Revolution: Tell us a little bit about Alton Sterling.

Abdullah Muflahi: Everybody knew him... everybody loved him. If he didn’t show up one day, people would come up and ask where he’s at. People’d come up asking me to call him. They always loved him. They loved doing business with him. He always looked out for anybody. I mean if somebody showed up and they wanted a CD and they didn’t have enough money, he’d let it slide. If somebody came in the store and didn’t have enough money for something, he’d buy it for them.

Revolution: Talk a little about your own background and why you have spoken out the way you have.

Abdullah Muflahi: I’ve been here for six years in this location. I like to give back. I don’t just take from the community... I try to give back in any way possible. Sometimes maybe free things, three times a year or so. I try to do a little personal appreciation. Always... I always show that I’m really appreciative like I really appreciate them allowing me to come into the community and allowing me to become a part of it. I’m from Yemen.

People are coming up to me and offering any kind of help they could. A lot of churches coming around offering anything that they’re able to do, or do I need anything from them and it’s been real nice and heartwarming to see all that come together. All the people coming together and offering to help and offering anything they could do to support.

Revolution: Finally, can you share some background into the conditions and community that Alton Sterling came out of?

Abdullah Muflahi: Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. That means that this state has the highest incarceration rate in the world. I mean enough is enough, is enough. How long will we be suppressed and we deal with this? I mean it becomes like a powder keg. It can only percolate so long before it explodes and we’re at that level where it’s about to explode.

Just hope that justice is done.... I mean maybe there will be some semblance of justice that will come out of this. But I don’t know what that is. You can’t bring this young man back. He has five kids now who will grow up without a father. Here’s a man that’s selling DVDs trying to support his family. I mean he’s relegated to selling DVDs because he has a felony conviction that this government put upon him. Now his life is taken and he can’t take care of them.

Revolution: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, and for what you are doing.



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