Feds decline to charge Louisiana policemen in fatal shooting

U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson in Baton Rouge told reporters on Wednesday there was "insufficient evidence" to charge the officers with civil rights violations, in part because investigators could not determine whether Sterling was reaching for a gun at the time he was shot. The person was not authorized to talk publicly about the decision and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The Justice Department's decision may not be the final legal chapter, however, because state authorities will conduct their own investigation.

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. Officers said that Sterling was attempting to pull a loaded gun out of his pocket when Salamoni opened fire, according to the Justice Department summary. So yesterday, to me was the first day that it happened. "We need closure. We need conviction". After The Washington Post's report Tuesday, a few dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters and at the convenience store where Sterling was killed - some chanting "No justice".

Lake's lawyer, Fred Crifasi, said the officer was relieved by the Justice Department's decision but would not comment further. "It is not because we think that federal intervention is the only way".

"The Governor's Office has not been notified of a timeline or decision regarding the Alton Sterling investigation".

Officials from the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the New Orleans field office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined in Wednesday's announcement, which had been the subject of rumors that had left Baton Rouge on edge for more than a week. Michael Adams, an attorney for Andricka Williams, mother of three of Sterling's children, told ABC News today that Williams is disappointed that the DOJ isn't bringing charges, adding that Williams learned of the DOJ's decision from the media on Tuesday even though the family was allegedly promised it would be told first.

The United States was then set on edge for weeks in July after a gunman shot and killed five officers in Dallas as peaceful protestors finished a march against police brutality.

At the news conference and in a statement, federal prosecutors went into detail about how a lack of evidence at critical moments stymied their ability to prove the elements of a civil rights violation.

The DOJ lawyers claimed there was not enough evidence to convict the two officers on a federal charge, 10 months after Sterling's death. Authorities in such cases must meet a hard standard of proof, a challenge that has complicated prosecutions in past police shootings.

The decision not to charge the two officers by the U.S. Department of Justice came amid scrutiny of how aggressively President Donald Trump's administration will seek to hold police officers accountable in such situations. Richardson said organizers will continue to work on behalf of Sterling's family and in the broader fight to end killings of blacks by police. "Sterling was not going for a gun, or more accurately that the officers did not believe he was reaching for a gun and therefore we can't establish that the lethal force that was used was unreasonable". When they arrived on the scene, they discovered Sterling, and pinned him to the ground; someone shouted "gun" before the officers fired. Sterling's death sparked protests against police brutality around the country after a video showed the 37-year-old father being shot multiple times by the white police officers. "Gun!" and tries unsuccessfully to grab Sterling's right hand.

Sterling was selling CDs outside the store, when two Baton Rouge officers arrived to investigate the 911 call.

Amundson, the US attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, said this afternoon, "There are no winners here, and there are no victories for anybody". A federal judge sealed a coroner's report on Sterling's autopsy.

Following Sterling's death, the two officers were placed on paid administrative leave. Each had two prior "use of force" complaints against them, and they were cleared in all four of those cases, internal affairs records indicate.

"So, at the state level the attorney general will probably be looking at manslaughter, and negligent homicide, as opposed to one of these specific intent crimes such as the federal crime was", said Pauline Hardin, Eyewitness News' legal analyst and a lawyer with 30 years criminal litigation experience now with the Jones Walker Law Firm.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). Everett Matthews of Baton Rouge, holds up a sign outside the Triple S Food Mart, where Alton Sterling was killed a year ago, in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

  • Zachary Reyes