In a decision that marks the first time newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declined to prosecute law enforcement in a high-profile case, the Justice Department will not charge the officers who fatally shot Baton Rouge father Alton Sterling last July.
As reported by the Washington Post, the department will reveal that the investigation into the incident has been closed. The family of Sterling had yet to be informed of the decision at the time of publication.
From the Post:
“We have not heard nor received an update and are unaware of any charges that may or may not be filed,” said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the Sterling family’s attorneys. “We have not received word, nor has the family been given any notice of upcoming updates regarding this case.”
Sterling was fatally shot after officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake approached him as he was selling CD’s outside of a convenience store. According to the police report, officers were responding to a call about a man threatening people with a gun. Sterling, police noted in a search warrant affidavit, fit the description.
A now viral video shows the 37-year-old being pinned down by police in front of the store. “He’s got a gun,” one officer yells before a barrage of shots ring out. His death — which came in a month mired in the gruesome police killing of Philando Castile and a mass police shooting carried out by a Dallas gunman — prompted nationwide protests calling for officer accountability and justice for Black lives.
While the prosecution of law enforcement has been historically rare, Sessions — who once joked about liking the Ku Klux Klan — has been vocal about plans to propose protections for police departments. In recent weeks, the DOJ has announced that they may pull back on consent decrees put in place for police departments in Ferguson, Baltimore, Newark and more.
This is a developing story.