The police shooting of Alton Sterling sparked nationwide protests that eventually led to the Black Lives Matter movement. But the state of Louisiana has effectively ended any criminal proceedings against the officers.
The US state of Louisiana announced on Tuesday it will not file criminal charges against the two white policemen involved in shooting dead a black man, sparking massive protests two years ago.
The decision effectively ends legal proceedings against the officers after the US Justice Department ruled out federal charges 11 months ago.
In July 2016 Officer Blane Salamoni shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling as his colleague officer Howie Lake II helped wrestle him to the ground outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge.
Cellphone footage of the event prompted massive protests over police violence against black men and helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement.
The state’s attorney general Jeff Landry said: “Our investigation has concluded that officers Lake and Salamoni attempted to make a lawful arrest,” adding the decision “was not taken lightly.”
He said Sterling was armed, under the influence of illegal drugs and had resisted arrest.
“Throughout the encounter, the officers attempted several non-lethal techniques to gain compliance and control of Mr. Sterling’s hands,” he said.
“Their efforts to do so were a direct result of the information relayed to them by the Baton Rouge police department dispatcher — and that was that Mr. Sterling was armed with a firearm.
“Furthermore, the officers’ concern that he was armed and dangerous was in fact subsequently verified and correct.”
But family members said they were bitterly disappointed with the decision.
Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s child Cameron, told reporters: “The way they killed him was in cold blood.”
“They took a human away. They took a father away. They took somebody away that did not deserve to be away,” she said.
Sterling’s aunt, Veda Washington-Abusaleh told local reporters: “He was murdered by two white racist police officers. He was murdered like an animal.”
At a Dallas demonstration two days after Sterling’s death, five law enforcement officers were fatally shot by an African-American ex-serviceman.
aw/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)