Sunday 22 April 2018

No charges in police fatal shooting of black man

Officer Blane Salamoni shot and killed Alton Sterling during a struggle outside a shop where the 37-year-old was selling homemade CDs.

Police in Baton Rouge stand by as crowds gather following the shooting (Patrick Dennis/The Advocate/AP)
Police in Baton Rouge stand by as crowds gather following the shooting (Patrick Dennis/The Advocate/AP)

By Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press

Louisiana’s attorney general has ruled out criminal charges against two Baton Rouge police officers in the fatal shooting of a black man outside a shop.

Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision came nearly 11 months after the Justice Department ruled out federal criminal charges in Alton Sterling’s July 2016 death.

Mr Landry made the announcement after meeting with family members of Mr Sterling.

Veda Washington-Abusaleh, Sterling’s aunt, was in tears after meeting.

“They said they didn’t find anything,” she said. “They said it was justifiable, what happened to Alton was justifiable.”

Officer Blane Salamoni shot and killed Mr Sterling during a struggle outside a shop where the 37-year-old was selling homemade CDs.

Officer Howie Lake II helped wrestle Mr Sterling to the ground, but he did not fire his gun.

The shooting came amid increased scrutiny of fatal encounters between police and black men.

Two mobile phone videos of the shooting quickly spread on social media, leading to protests during which nearly 200 people were arrested.

The officers’ body cameras and a store surveillance camera also recorded the encounter, but those videos have not been released.

Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation immediately after the shooting and released their findings in May 2017.

They said Mr Salamoni yelled that Mr Sterling was reaching for a gun in his pocket before shooting him three times, and then fired three more shots into Mr Sterling’s back when he began to sit up and move.

The officers recovered a loaded revolver from Mr Sterling’s pocket. As a convicted criminal, Mr Sterling could not legally carry a gun.

Mr Sterling had pleaded guilty in 2011 to being in possession of a firearm and illegally carrying a weapon and was arrested in May 2009 after an officer confronted him outside another store where he was selling CDs, court records show.

Federal authorities concluded there was not enough evidence to prove Mr Salamoni or Mr Lake wilfully deprived Mr Sterling of his civil rights, or that the officers’ use of force was objectively unreasonable.

Press Association

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