Official decision in fatal shooting coming soon

Lauren Perry
May 4, 2017

"In order to ensure this matter is investigated by the agency with the most expertise in officer-involved shootings - I have directed the USDOJ to securely forward their investigative materials to the Louisiana State Police (LSP) to conduct the state investigation". Two cellphone videos of Sterling's struggle with the two officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, quickly spread on social media after the shooting.

Police eventually manage to pin Sterling to the ground, with one officer straddling him.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). Everett Matthews of Baton Rouge, holds up a sign outside the Triple S Food Mart, where Alton Sterling was killed previous year, in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, May 2, 2017. One of Alton's aunts spoke at the vigil and led the crowd in chants of "No justice, no peace!"

The Baton Rouge police chief has said Sterling was armed. "It's like going back to the first day". "We need closure. We need conviction".

"Jeff Landry, please open up your heart, your eyes and give us the justice that we deserve", said Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling's oldest son.

Sterling's family met with representatives of the Department of Justice inside the Federal Courthouse prior to the announcement.

"We need justice", she said.

The rumors were confirmed in Baton Rouge on Wednesday where the man's family were told unequivocally that charges would not be brought.

Family members of Sterling, as well at their attorneys, spoke out about the decision. "We have been in constant contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office and were assured that both our office and the Sterling family would be given advance notice", said Richard Carbo, a spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards. An attorney for Lake did not return a call seeking comment.

"We would have to prove he (Sterling) wasn't actually going for a gun, and that Salamoni just wanted to shoot him", said Corey Amundson, acting United States attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Alton Sterling in Facebook photo.

Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in July 2016.

A person familiar with the Justice Department's decision told The Associated Press that federal officials do not plan to charge two white officers in the death of Sterling, who was shot during a struggle in July.

"This matter now needs to be investigated for possible state criminal violations", Landry's statement reads.

During the news conference, which FOX 4 streamed live on our Facebook page, officials explained in detail what they saw in the video and why it did not meet the standards to file charges against the officers.

A day after the Castile shooting, five Dallas police officers were gunned down by a sniper at a peaceful protest in apparent retaliation.

Video footage of the killing showed the officers holding Sterling on the ground when he was shot, prompting protests and a federal inquiry. Sterling was shot six times in the chest and back.

The protests in response to the Justice Department's decision were a far cry from those held in July after Sterling's killing by police. Witness and police accounts differed on whether Sterling was threatening officers and whether he had reached for a gun. Sterling, who was selling CDs outside the store, fit the description of that man, according to a search warrant affidavit in the case.

Court-enforced consent decrees are meant to broadly change police practices - often those related to discrimination or arrest procedures - and differ from investigations into specific incidents like that in Baton Rouge.

The two officers are on paid administrative leave pending an internal police investigation. Each had two prior "use of force" complaints against them, and they were cleared in all four of those cases, internal affairs records indicate.

Once there, they tackled Sterling to the ground and climbed on top of him as he writhed on the floor. It is the first time under Sessions that the Justice Department has publicly declined to prosecute officers who are involved in high-profile police involved shootings.

Other reports by VgToday

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