Louisiana Considers Prosecuting Officers Who Killed Alton Sterling

Mural of Alton Sterling

According to the Justice Department, the officers said they saw the butt of a gun in one of Sterling's trousers pockets and saw him try to reach for it before he was shot.

"It is not enough to show that an officer acted recklessly or with negligence or by mistake, exercised bad judgment, used bad tactics or even that the officer escalated the situation where he could have de-escalated", said Corey Amundson, the acting US attorney in Baton Rouge. Three women were arrested at a protest on a city highway late on Tuesday night, though a vigil at the scene where Sterling was killed was peaceful.

"It's no longer a civil matter, it's a human matter", Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt said after the decision was announced at an emotional press conference.

On July 5, 2016, Salamoni and Lake were reporting to a call of a man using a gun in a threatening manner.

According to the Justice Department, Sterling's right hand is not visible to the cameras when Salamoni again yells that Sterling is "going for the gun!"

Baton Rouge police have beefed up security around the city and are expected to be on high alert in light of the DOJ decision.

Salamoni's attorney, John McLindon, said he expects the state will come to the same conclusion as the federal probe. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry tweeted he will comment after the official Department of Justice announcement. Salamoni first fired at Sterling after he allegedly saw him reaching for the weapon, the Justice Department said.

But DOJ officials will meet with the Sterling family at about 11:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) Wednesday, family spokesman Arthur Reed said. But at the same time, because of the speed at which the incident took place, they said their accounts could not disprove the officers' claim that Sterling was reaching for a gun.

It comes a day after the white Charleston police officer who shot Walter Scott dead accepted a plea deal which could see him jailed for life.

"Most of the time, we are calling for federal intervention when the state can't actually do it", Robinson said.

Area Resident's Mourn the Death of Alton Sterling
Area residents at storefront site of Alton Sterling’s death

"The high burden meant federal prosecutors would have not only had to prove the use of force was "objectively unreasonable" but also ". that the officers acted in a willful manner with specific intent to deprive this individual of their constitutional rights", he said.

"Being reckless, escalating a situation that may have been de-escalated - those things are not a basis under the law for a federal civil rights prosecution", he said.

"And from that enhanced audio you heard the words of this officer who walked out to this gentlemen put a gun to his head and said bitch I'm going to kill you", Adams said.

The videos show Sterling scuffling with Salamoni and Lake after they responded to a caller's complaint that Sterling had threatened the caller with a gun outside the Triple S Food Mart.

She added that she believes Blane Salamoni, the officer who fired the deadly shot, was wrong and became incredibly emotional when describing the events that unfolded.

Family members appealed to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to do just that.

The Washington Post and The New York Times first reported that multiple sources told them the Justice Department, which led the shooting investigation, will not seek charges against the officers. Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said most of the investigation into Sterling's death likely was conducted before Trump took office.

A spokesman for the Louisiana governor says his office has not been notified of any federal decision in the Alton Sterling investigation.

Video footage of the struggle between the two white officers and the black man triggered days of protests and almost 200 arrests in Baton Rouge.




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