US Justice Dept. Won't Charge Cops in Alton Sterling's Death

The state is still free to file its own charges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2017 6:49 PM CDT
US Justice Dept. Won't Charge Cops in Alton Sterling's Death
In this July 2016 image from video, Alton Sterling is restrained by two Baton Rouge police officers, one holding a gun, outside a convenience store in Louisiana. Moments later, one of the officers shot and killed Sterling, who had been selling CDs outside the store, while he was on the ground.   (Arthur Reed via AP)

The US Justice Department has decided not to charge two white Baton Rouge police officers in the death of a black man whose fatal shooting was captured on cellphone video, fueling protests in Louisiana's capital and beyond, the AP reports. Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation immediately after the July 2016 police shooting that killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling outside a convenience store where he was selling homemade CDs. The department's decision not to charge the officers doesn't preclude state authorities from conducting their own investigation and pursuing their own criminal charges.

Two cellphone videos of Sterling's deadly struggle with two white officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, quickly spread on social media after the July 5 shooting. A police report says Sterling was initially jolted with a stun gun after he didn't comply with the officers' commands to put his hands on the hood of a car. The report also says the officers saw the butt of a gun in one of Sterling's pants pockets and saw him try to reach for it before he was shot. In Baton Rouge last summer, police arrested nearly 200 protesters following Sterling's death, which occurred a day before another black man was killed by police in Minnesota. (Read more Alton Sterling stories.)

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