Justice Dept. Won't Bring Charges in Alton Sterling Death
Justice Dept. Won't Bring Charges in Alton Sterling Death
11 May, 2017, 06:09
Two white Louisiana police officers were spared federal charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a black man last summer but still face a state criminal investigation, as the victim's family angrily demanded justice.
The Justice Department's decision on the Sterling case also comes on the heels of a plea deal between federal prosecutors and former SC police officer Michael Slager for the 2015 death of black motorist Walter Scott, who was trying to flee when Slager fatally shot him in the back.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The white police officer who shot a black man to death outside of a convenience store pointed a gun at the man's head and threatened to shoot him before they wrestled on the ground, lawyers for the slain man's family said Wednesday.
Wednesday the U.S. Department of Justice announced no federal charges will be filed against Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, the two officers involved in the incident.
The officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling's pocket.
Federal investigators consulted use of force experts to evaluate the officers' response.
Shortly after those reports surfaced, a representative for the Sterling family said they had yet to be told of the Justice Department's decision.
Shortly after Salamoni and Lake shot the 37-year-old Sterling, protests erupted in the city.
"No, it's not worth the wait, it's not worth the wait".
"Those of us that practice this type of law know that the burden of proof in these type of federal charges is very high, it's proof beyond a reasonable doubt", explained former Caddo Assistant District Attorney Dhu Thompson.
Landry has said he will make the final call as to whether state charges would be brought against the officer, but he wants to hand off most of the investigation to the Louisiana State Police.
The body of Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed by Baton Rouge Police officers, lies in a casket during his funeral at Southern University on July 15, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Landry warned that a state investigation, which was delayed to allow the federal probe to proceed, "could take a considerable amount of time". "Those things are not violations under federal criminal civil rights laws", Amundson said.
Video footage showed the two cops tackling and wrestling Sterling to the ground, with Salamoni yelling, "He's got a gun!"
The confrontation began when a 911 caller said a man wearing a red T-shirt selling CDs was armed.
To prove a Fourth Amendment violation, the government had to disprove the officers' accounts and find another one that showed their actions were "objectively unreasonable". Landry, a Republican, said he's directed the Justice Department to forward its investigative materials to the Louisiana State Police. "We are not going to submit", said Abdullah, who is chairwoman of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.
Louisiana prosecutors have vowed to launch their own investigation to determine whether state charges are applicable.
According to the Department of Justice, Sterling fit the description of the person with the gun. "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. Officers told Sterling to put his hands on the hood of a vehicle, and when he did not, a struggle ensued. "And as we were going through the process, I kept asking them, 'What happens if they come back with this decision?'". And it appears as if Sessions' pro-police, law-and-order philosophy is already starting to influence the way decisions are made in his department.
As Sterling lies fatally wounded, the other officer removes something from Sterling's right pocket.
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