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Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has declined to bring charges against two white Baton Rouge police officers who were involved in the 2016 fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.
“After a thorough and exhaustive review of the evidence… the Louisiana Department of Justice cannot proceed with a prosecution,” Landry said in a press conference.
“I know the Sterling family is hurting and I know they may not agree with this decision,” Landry added. “I pray that God blesses and keeps the Sterling family through his difficult time.”
Sterling was shot six times outside of a convenience store in July 2016 after police were called and allegedly told a Black man with a gun was acting threateningly. At the time, Sterling was selling CDs outside of the store when he was accosted, and later wrestled to the ground, tased, and finally fatally shot by two officers.
The deadly encounter was caught on video, and the officers involved, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, were placed on administrative leave.
During the press conference announcing his decision not to bring charges against the officers, Landry said a loaded gun was found in Sterling’s front pocket and the 37-year-old father of five “was continuously resisting” during his fatal interaction with police.
Last year, Sterling’s family filed a lawsuit against the department and the city of Baton Rouge, claiming both institutions have a history of discriminating against Black residents.
“The City of Baton Rouge has a long standing pervasive policy of tolerating racist behavior by some of its officers,” the lawsuit said. “There have also been multiple verbal racist comments by officers reported to the department. This tolerance of such behavior directly leads to the mistreatment of individuals of African American descent.”
While the civil case proceeds, Landry’s decision not to charge the officers involved in Sterling’s death marks the end of criminal proceedings. Back in May, the Department of Justice also refused to charge Salamoni and Lake for violating Sterling’s civil rights.
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