Federal Judge Seals Alton Sterling’s Autopsy Report

By Sameer Rao Aug 03, 2016

As the Department of Justice (DOJinvestigates the killing of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, the local coroner revealed Tuesday (August 2) that a federal judge ordered Sterling’s autopsy report sealed.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William "Beau" Clark told The Associated Press (AP) that he signed the autopsy report on Monday and that he cannot release a copy of the judge’s order sealing the report. 

"Now we’re in an unusual position of not being able to release these things," Shane Evans, chief of investigations for the coroner’s office, told The Washington Post. Neither outlet identified the specific judge or court involved in the ruling.

Clark also told the AP that this is the first time a judge has sealed a report from his office. Neither the U.S. Attorney’s office in Baton Rouge nor the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division would comment on the sealing, citing the ongoing investigation.

Sterling’s death, partially captured in cell phone videos, occured after Salamoni and Lake pinned down Sterling. The two officers, currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, reported to the scene in response to an anonymous call saying that a man fitting Sterling’s description (red shirt and selling CDs) threatened him with a gun. A bystander said the officers pulled a gun from Sterling’s pocket after they shot him multiple times.

The July 5 killing, mere days before Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile, sparked local and national protests over state violence and racism in Black communities.