On July 5, 2016, Baton Rouge police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man who was selling CDs outside a convenience store with the owner’s permission. Today (March 27), Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that his office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers. Landry’s decision comes 10 months after the Department of Justice decided not to pursue charges.
Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake said that they were responding to a call from an anonymous person who said that a man fitting Sterling’s description threatened him with a gun. Video shows that the officers used a stun gun on Sterling twice, then shot him six times within 90 seconds of arriving on the scene, and only removed a gun from his pocket after they shot him.
From Landry’s statement on the case:
After a thorough and exhaustive review of the evidence, the facts that can be established beyond a reasonable doubt, the law and jurisprudence of the state of Louisiana, and the obligations of prosecutors under the code of professional conduct—the Louisiana Department of Justice cannot proceed with a prosecution of either Officer Howie Lake or Officer Blane Salamoni.
He also said that he felt the officers attempted to make a “lawful arrest of Alton Sterling based upon probable cause” and that his "noncompliance" led to his death. Read his 34-page report here.
Landy met with Sterling’s family just before revealing his decision to the public today. Several members of the family spoke to WAFB following the announcement.
Sandra Sterling, who’s had a stroke since this all began, said Landry should be ashamed of this decision. She is Alton Sterling’s aunt.
"I’m not crying anymore," she said. "I will get justice from a higher power.”
She added officers took an oath "to serve and protect not to serve and kill.”
Quinyetta McMillion, the mother of Alton Sterling’s son, Cameron, said they will get justice.
"Yes, we did not get justice here today, but we will get justice," she explained. "We don’t hate anyone, but we just want justice.”
The family has a pending civil lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department, the city and the officers that alleges wrongful death due to excessive force.