On March 27th, The Louisiana Department of Justice decided not to charge the two officers responsible for shooting and killing Alton Sterling back in the summer of 2016.
Alton Sterling, a 37-year old black man, was shot and killed by police officers outside of a Triple S Food Mart convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 5th, 2016. Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were responding to a call regarding a black man threatening a homeless man with a gun in the area when they spotted Sterling. Lake arrived at the scene first and confronted Sterling. Salamoni arrived a few minutes later with a gun in hand. In graphic video footage, it reveals the officers threatening Sterling’s life within seconds of arriving on the scene. Salamoni holds a gun to his head and screams, “Don’t f—– move or I’ll shoot your f—- a–. Put your f—— hands on the car.” Within minutes of this altercation, Sterling is shot twice with a taser, violently threatened, tackled to the ground, and then shot twice in the chest.
Officer Blane Salamoni pulled the trigger, claiming that Sterling was reaching for a gun while both officers had him pinned to the ground. There is no supporting evidence as to whether Sterling had been reaching for a gun at the time he was shot by officer Salamoni. According to CNN, Officer Howie Lake II was suspended for three days and Officer Blane Salamoni was fired indefinitely following the event.
Unsettling video footage of Sterling’s killing was released from multiple sources. The videos went viral, immediately sparking national outrage, specifically within black communities across the country. According to the Washington Post, this is one of many shootings of black men by police officers that led to nationwide protests in 2016. The Black Lives Matter movement marched for Alton Sterling’s life and for lives of countless other black men were killed at the hands of police officers.
On Tuesday, March 27th, 2018, Louisiana’s State Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that neither of the officers will be charged with Sterling’s death. According to Landry’s written report on the on the incident, it reads, “We have concluded that the officers in question acted as reasonable officers under existing law and were justified in their use of force.” The evidence has been considered insufficient, as they are unaware whether the officer’s lives were in danger when Salamoni shot Sterling in the chest.
According to the Washington Post’s fatal police shooting database, “While just under 1,000 people are shot and killed by police annually, just a handful of those cases each year lead to criminal charges.” The numbers of officers who are acquitted of charges in these cases are alarmingly low. Justice for the families of those who have been killed is usually never obtained.