Attorney General Jeff Landry Statement on Sterling Investigation
11 May, 2017, 07:02 | Author: Van Morton
The Justice Department is expected to death-alton-sterling" target="_blank">officially announce findings today into the investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man whose death by a Baton Rouge police officer was captured on cell phone footage last summer.
The second video shows Sterling on the ground as one officer straddles him and another kneels to his left.
"I am appalled that this news, whether true or false, has been disseminated without a formal decision being relayed to the Sterling family first", Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said.
"Although the videos do not show Sterling's right hand at the time those shots were fired, they show that Sterling's right hand was not under Officer Salamoni's control", the report said.
The prosecutor says the officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling's pocket.
Amundson said two independent experts agreed the use of lethal force by the officers in the Sterling case was not unreasonable.
Amundson said that in order to federally charge the officers, the Department of Justice "would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers acted willfully with the specific intent to do something that the law forbid". Salamoni has been a Baton Rouge police officer for four years; Lake had been on the force for three years. The federal government didn't bring charges - they didn't conclude the officers meant to violate Sterling's civil rights - but they didn't rule out the possibility that the officers were reckless or heightened the tension with Sterling when they confronted him.
Civil rights groups said the decision not to bring charges in the emblematic case - the first taken under Donald Trump's incoming attorney general, Jeff Sessions - sent a clear signal that "black lives don't matter".
US Attorney Corey Amundson told a press conference that after a thorough 10-month review, that there was "insufficient evidence" to press charges.
State and local leaders called for the Justice Department to begin an investigation after Sterling's death.
John McLindon, Salamoni's lawyer, said he could not comment on the allegations.
Landry said he had taken action "to ensure this matter is investigated by the agency with the most expertise in officer-involved shootings". When they arrived on the scene, they discovered Sterling, and pinned him to the ground; someone shouted "gun" before the officers fired.
Officers Blake Salamoni and Howie Lake were responding to a call of an armed man identified as Alton Sterling outside a convenience store.
"Given these circumstances, the evidence can not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it did not appear to Officer Salamoni that Sterling was reaching for his pocket. To date, this matter has not been investigated or reviewed for possible violations of the Louisiana Criminal Code", Landry said shortly after federal officials announced they wouldn't be bringing charges.
"It's been nearly a year and we're still suffering like it was yesterday", Sandra Sterling said.
Louisiana prosecutors have vowed to launch their own investigation to determine whether state charges are applicable.
The family of Alton Sterling met with the Department of Justice to get the official notice Wednesday morning. According to the release, his office had not seen the evidence before now.
Ryan Julison, a spokesman for two attorneys representing some members of Alton Sterling's family, said the family hasn't been notified of any DOJ decision.
Both officers were placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure.
Dozens of people gathered Tuesday outside the store where Sterling was shot and killed during a struggle with the two officers in July.
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