Cops in shooting death of Alton Sterling aren't off the hook yet

Danny Woods
May 9, 2017

A bystander's video shows the police pinning Sterling, a black man, to the ground before shooting him, leading to widespread criticism and renewed "Black Lives Matter" protests.

The confrontation began when a 911 caller said a man wearing a red T-shirt selling CDs was armed.

The Justice Department said Lake subsequently found a.38 caliber revolver in Sterling's back pocket. One new detail: The officer who eventually shot Sterling first put a gun to his head when Sterling didn't comply with orders to put his hands on the hood of a auto on the night of July 5. When officers approached Sterling in the parking lot of the convenience store, "an altercation between Sterling and officers ensued", said police.

Tamara Williams, who grew up in the area and knew Sterling personally, feels much the same way.

Despite the decision not to bring federal charges against the officers, the Louisiana Attorney General still has the right to bring about criminal charges at a state level.

A person familiar with the Justice Department's decision disclosed it to The Associated Press on Tuesday. Lake draws his weapon and yells at Sterling to not move. Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, a national racial justice organization, said civil rights advocates should seek focus attempts to seek justice for victims of excessive force by police at the local level.

Were the actions taken by the officers reasonable?

Federal investigators consulted use of force experts to evaluate the officers' response.

Was the second series of shots a violation of the Fourth Amendment? The Fourth Amendment outlines what constitutes an illegal search and seizure.

Sterling's death came one day before Philando Castile was shot and killed by police in St. Paul Minnesota.

'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.

The officer, Roy Oliver, was sacked Tuesday for violating departmental policy. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division declined to comment on criticism of the office, and White House officials were not immediately available for comment.

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The AP reported that a police report said the officers saw the butt of a gun in Sterling's pockets and that they saw him try to reach for it.

The Justice Department said he did not, at which point, Salamoni fired three additional shots.

"He put a gun to his head y'all making it seem like it was Alton", Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt said in an emotional press conference.

"It's like, we waited all this time for nothing", she said. "It's a disgusting pain".

Veda Sterling spoke at a vigil Tuesday outside the convenience store where her nephew Alton was shot.

"While many here today and out around Baton Rouge, Louisiana and elsewhere may not agree with their decision today, it is incumbent around here as Louisianians to pull together to make sure peace is maintained to see this process through", Edwards said.

Afterward, officials from the DOJ, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Attorney's office will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).

Several of Sterling's relatives wept after the DOJ told the family no federal charges will be filed.

In a statement, Richard Carbo said Tuesday that Gov. John Bel Edwards' office has been in "constant contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office".

But Landry has made clear he thinks the state police should review the material first, before he is brought in to make a final decision about state charges against the officers.

Acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson said there is not enough sufficient evidence to federally charge the officers involved in the controversial July shooting.

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