Focus of Alton Sterling case shifts to Louisiana prosecutor

Erica Roy
May 6, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - After federal authorities announced they would not prosecute two white police officers in the shooting death of a black man, a refrain rang out from the man's family, lawyers and supporters: It's up to Louisiana's attorney general to seek justice.

"In declining to prosecute officers in the July shooting of Alton B. Sterling in Baton Rouge, Mr. Sessions was keeping with - not breaking from - a long standing pattern", the NYT said. In this era of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, both of whom have repeatedly expressed their support for police, Amundson did not want this prosecutorial decision to be seen as political.

Landry warned that a state investigation into the actions of the officers, which was delayed to allow the federal probe to proceed, "could take a considerable amount of time". Louisiana is also a state where it is legal to carry a concealed weapon with a permit.

Sterling's Aunt Sandra Sterling was inconsolable following her meeting with prosecutors, saying they told her the officer that shot her nephew six times, Blane Salamoni, pointed a gun to Sterling's head during the altercations and said he was going to kill him.

KASTE: But did that increase represent a real change in the way prosecutors look at police shooting cases? Sterling fell to the ground when they tazed him the first time, but he stood back up and ignored the officers' commands to get on the ground.

No public announcement has been made by the Department of Justice, and many officials in Baton Rouge said they haven't been notified.

For the record, if either version of that story is true, Officer Salamoni was out of line. And it also appeared, at least to the officers, that he was going for a gun. Alton Sterling, on the other hand, was shot during this struggle with officers. Such behavior would be unprofessional and nearly certainly against department policy. He called state police "the agency with the most expertise in officer-involved shootings" and said he assigned a prosecutor from his office to assist.

Rain falls outside the Triple S Food Mart where Alton Sterling was fatally shot and killed by Baton Rouge Police officers last July, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 3, 2017.

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". A disclaimer in that narrative notes that it "does not include or discuss all facts known to federal law enforcement officials". They are able to pick up on nuances. The arrestees were demonstrating on Airline Highway across from Baton Rouge Police headquarters. By the end of those 90 seconds, he was dead and the stage was set for weeks of violent riots and the death of police officers who never met Alton Sterling.

Between 1995 and 2015, according to a report from the the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, almost all-a whopping 96%-of the civil-rights complaints against law enforcement got turned down by United States attorney's offices around the country. But even though jurors may be offended by the conduct, they often give police the benefit of the doubt in a split-second decision, Magner added. Hopefully, the outcome - either way - will not be used as a cause to renew the violence of last summer.

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