Sterling was shot by police in Baton Rouge, La., early Tuesday morning, promoting the Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation.
Wilmore addressed the injustice of Sterling’s death and the public’s justification of such incidents on his Comedy Central news show.
“What really gets me is that whenever this happens, there’s always an immediate takedown of the dead man’s character,” Wilmore said. “So he had a criminal record. Martha Stewart has a criminal record. I don’t remember her being executed in a convenience store parking lot. Maybe I missed it, but it feels like that would’ve made Huffington Post at least. No matter what his crimes were, Alton Sterling did not deserve to be executed for them. Look guys, the punishment for resisting arrest shouldn’t be death. The punishment for selling bootleg CDs shouldn’t be death. The punishment for having a gun in an open-carry state shouldn’t be death. The punishment for being a black man shouldn’t be death.”
Sterling’s shooting was captured by bystanders; the officers who killed the 37-year-old man said their body cameras had fallen off.
“Fell off! Things don’t just fall off unless you’re talking about Sisqo and the face of the f—ing earth,” Wilmore said.
Cell phone footage showed two white Baton Rouge officers pinning Sterling to the ground before shooting and killing him in front of a convenience store. Sterling had a gun in his possession, but videos taken of the incident don’t show him holding the weapon when he was shot.
“Thank God for f—ing cell phones,”Wilmore continued. “Because we would never even hear about incidents like this otherwise. In fact, part of what makes people in the black community so enraged about this is for years, we never had evidence for these things.”
Wilmore’s comments came the same night another black man, Philando Castile, was killed by a police officer in St. Anthony, Minn. His girlfriend, who was in the car with their daughter, captured the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live.