Alton Sterling: No Charges Against Officers

Prosecutors in Louisiana have decided not to charge the white Baton Rouge cops involved in the fatal 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man whose death sparked widespread protests.

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

The Department of Justice said last spring that Salamoni put a gun to Stering's head when Sterling refused the officers' order to put his hands on the hood of a auto.

Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five, was held down by the two officers and shot dead outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016. Officer Salamoni's attorney has said the officer feared for his life because he thought Sterling was reaching for a gun.

An officer later found a gun in Sterling's pocket, but the convenience store owner said the gun was never in Sterling's hand. Officer Howie Lake II helped wrestle Sterling to the ground, but Lake didn't fire his gun. Sterling's aunt Veda Washington wiped tears as she left his office. "Sterling was under the influence, and that contributed to his noncompliance", Landry said.

Two cellphone videos of the shooting quickly spread on social media, leading to protests at which almost 200 people were arrested. Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said Tuesday that his department still intends to complete disciplinary hearings for the officers, including releasing findings such as dash-cam video. Police pinned Sterling to the ground, then shot him multiple times.

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After the hearings, Paul said, police will release four additional videos: two body camera recordings; one from a store surveillance camera; and one from the dashboard camera in a patrol vehicle.

"You put a killer back on the streets", Sterling said, according to reports.

Officers were called to the location after a homeless man reported a man had a gun in front of the store.

After meeting with Landry, members of Sterling's family expressed deep sadness and outrage, but little surprise at the decision. L. Chris Stewart said investigators did not follow up with witnesses and relied heavily on the two federal investigators who already looked into the case. One had been previously involved in the shooting of another black man two years prior that had led to administrative leave. Salamoni eventually holstered his gun, tackled Sterling to the ground and tried to control Sterling's right arm, and Lake knelt and tried to control Sterling's left arm, the state report says. Before the fatal shooting, one of the officers can be heard yelling, "He's got a gun!"

In June 2017, Sterling's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city government and police, alleging a history of excessive-force incidents and racism toward African-Americans.

  • Megan Austin