Cops who fatally shot Alton Sterling in 2016 will not face charges

Delia Walker
March 28, 2018

Earlier in the day, Louisiana's attorney general ruled out criminal charges against the officers in the July 2016 death of Alton Sterling.

She said it was "unfortunately lengthy, bureaucratic process" leading up to Louisiana Attorney Jeff Landry's decision to not charge the two police officers involved in the shooting.

The conclusions on Tuesday come after U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Corey Amundson, last year expressed publicly that after an "exhaustive, nearly year-long" federal investigation, they declined to pursue charges against either Salamoni or Lake II.

Felma White, a 63-year-old retired food service worker, wore a shirt adorned with screen-printed news clippings showing Sterling's grieving family and newspaper headlines about the shooting. "He was murdered like an animal", Sterling's aunt, Veda Washington-Abusaleh, told local reporters on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. "They said it was justifiable, what happened to Alton was justifiable".

"They took a human away", McMillon said.

Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said state prosecutors had followed the law in evaluating the case.

At that point, Landry said, Salamoni allegedly drew his weapon again and trained it on Sterling before warning him, "If you move, I swear to god". "I know that they may not agree with the decision".

Landry said drugs were found in Sterling's system and that could have contributed to Sterling's "noncompliance" with commands from officers.

Landry did not take any questions from reporters. "They say they didn't see anything wrong".

"The Louisiana Department of Justice can not proceed with a prosecution", Mr. Landry said at a news conference in Baton Rouge. After not complying, one officer tackled Sterling to the ground, while another pointed a gun at Sterling's head.

Since 2005, 85 non-federal law enforcement officers - a group that includes police officers, state troopers and deputy sheriffs - have been arrested for murder or manslaughter after fatally shooting someone while on-duty, according to Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University in OH, who studies arrests of officers and has kept data since that year.

Cellphone videos of the shooting on social media sparked protests that led to almost 200 arrests in Baton Rouge. The officers' body cameras and a store surveillance camera also recorded the encounter, but those videos have not been released.

The officers and Sterling struggled, during which Salamoni shot Sterling after yelling that Sterling had a gun.

In July 2016, Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II responded to a 911 call about a man standing outside a convenience store holding a gun. As a convicted felon, Sterling could not legally carry a gun. However, the phone footage from the scene never showed Sterling reaching for the gun.

"If I'm Howie Lake or Blane Salamoni, I'd be nervous because it sounds like one or both will be fired", Young said. In a summary of its findings, the Justice Department said Salamoni pointed his gun at Sterling's head but didn't mention any verbal threats by the officer.

The Tuesday revelation came as Landry announced there would be no criminal charges against the two officers in the Alton Sterling's 2016 death. Police pinned Sterling to the ground, then shot him multiple times.

Salamoni and Lake are on paid administrative leave. The two officers involved in the shooting ultimately went on to stand trial, and today, CNN has revealed that no charges will be filed.

The Sterling shooting prompted nationwide protests, including a demonstration two days later in Dallas where five law enforcement officers were fatally shot by an African-American ex-serviceman.

Sterling's death in Baton Rouge helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement and inflamed a national debate over racial bias in US policing.

The Baton Rouge Police Department should conduct a review to determine if disciplinary action should be taken, Edwards said.

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