WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ Alton Sterling Alton Sterling en-us Copyright 2018, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Fri, 19 Oct 2018 HH:10:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 BRPD releases video from Alton Sterling shooting; one officer fired, another suspended http://www.wbrz.com/news/brpd-releases-video-from-alton-sterling-shooting-one-officer-fired-another-suspended/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/brpd-releases-video-from-alton-sterling-shooting-one-officer-fired-another-suspended/ Alton Sterling Fri, 30 Mar 2018 5:05:46 PM Jeremy Krail BRPD releases video from Alton Sterling shooting; one officer fired, another suspended

BATON ROUGE - One of two Baton Rouge police officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling has been fired, Police Chief Murphy Paul revealed Friday.

The announcement comes just days after Attorney General Jeff Landry said the state would not pursue charges against officers Howie Lake and Blane Salamoni. The two have been at the center of state and federal investigations for the past two years over the 2016 shooting, which stirred up massive protests in Baton Rouge.

After the state announced its decision to not charge the officers Tuesday, Paul said he would decide on disciplinary action by the end of the week. Paul said Salamoni was terminated Friday for how he handled the encounter, saying he did not follow BRPD protocol when he confronted Sterling, nor did he exercise emotional control.

Paul added that Lake would be suspended for three days for failing to maintain his composure during the incident.

Members of the Sterling family, who were shown the body camera footage during the federal investigation last year, often described Salamoni as the aggressor in the confrontation, claiming his actions escalated the situation.

Along with the chief's decision, BRPD has also released the body camera, dash camera and surveillance footage from the night of the shooting. It marks the first time the footage has been officially released in the more than 20 months following the shooting.

>Click HERE to see the raw video from Salamoni's body cam

>Click HERE to see the raw footage from Lake's body cam

>Click HERE to see the surveillance footage from outside the Triple S store

>Click HERE to listen to the 911 call

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released a statement following the firing Friday afternoon, supporting Chief Murphy Paul's decision:

"Today, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul concluded his administrative investigation and has made a decision in the Alton Sterling case.

I have placed my trust in Chief Paul and fully support his decision. I am grateful for his leadership and his swift, decisive, and fair action on this matter.

Although the investigations into this case have concluded, the dialogue does not end today. I pledge to continue to lead and facilitate respectful conversations between the community and law enforcement in an effort to build trust and understanding on both sides.

The backdrop of this Holy Weekend serves as an opportunity for our community to move toward collective healing.

While support and prayers for the Sterling family are encouraged, we know that these alone will not heal their family or our community. It is vital that lessons are learned from this tragedy and that we apply our knowledge to prevent future incidents and implement policies that make this community safer and more unified."

Check back for updates.

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State will not charge officers in Alton Sterling shooting; BRPD conducting internal investigation http://www.wbrz.com/news/state-will-not-charge-officers-in-alton-sterling-shooting-brpd-conducting-internal-investigation/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/state-will-not-charge-officers-in-alton-sterling-shooting-brpd-conducting-internal-investigation/ Alton Sterling Tue, 27 Mar 2018 11:44:00 AM Jeremy Krail State will not charge officers in Alton Sterling shooting; BRPD conducting internal investigation

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has announced the state will not pursue charges against two Baton Rouge police officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling.

Landry made the announcement in a 10 a.m. press conference Tuesday, saying officers Howie Lake and Blane Salamoni will not face charges.

According to the AG's report, both officers responded to a report of a man with a firearm assaulting someone outside the Triple S store on North Foster Drive on July 5, 2016. The pair then spotted Sterling and interrupted him as he was in the middle of a transaction with two women.

The report says Sterling refused to comply with the officers' commands for him to place his hands on a nearby vehicle. When the officers tried to forcefully control his hands, Sterling reportedly resisted.

From there, the report says Salamoni drew his weapon and threatened to shoot if Sterling did not comply. When Sterling continued to resist Salamoni, he stepped back and ordered Lake to use his Taser. After the Taser proved ineffective, Salamoni tackled Sterling to the ground and tried to gain control of his arms.

Landry says Salamoni was then seen reaching for his handgun as he pinned Sterling to the ground. The officer was then heard shouting that Sterling had a gun. Moments later, the officer shouts that Sterling was going for his weapon and fires three shots into his chest.

The report goes on to say that both officers stepped away, guns drawn. Sterling then rolled over and began to sit up with his hands concealed and officers fired three more shots into his back.

Once he was incapacitated, the officers moved in and removed the gun from Sterling's right front pocket.

After reviewing the evidence, the AG says the officers' actions were reasonable given the circumstances. The report also included toxicology results from the EBR coroner, which showed that Sterling had cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs in his system at the time of the shooting.

Whether any discipline will come to the officers will now be the decision of Baton Rouge Police Department. Chief Murphy Paul says the department aims to have the disciplinary hearings completed by Friday. 

After the department holds a press conference to announce its decision, the chief says video from both officers' body cameras, the car camera, store surveillance, and the audio from the original 911 call will be released to the public.

An attorney representing Officer Salamoni says he expects the department will fire his client, calling it a "forgone conclusion" in BRPD's internal investigation.

Governor released the following statement after the announcement: 

“The death of Alton Sterling was a tragedy that evoked deep grief and anger across Baton Rouge and Louisiana. Our communities continue to heal from the events of the summer of 2016. While everyone may not agree with the decision by the Louisiana Department of Justice, the process outlined by law was followed. Now, we come to the next phase of the investigation. I support Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and Chief Murphy Paul’s decision to conduct an administrative review to determine if any disciplinary action should be taken within the Baton Rouge Police Department.  We owe this final review to the Baton Rouge community and the Sterling family. As we move into this next phase of the investigation, I continue to ask the people of Louisiana to pray for Alton’s family, the community of North Baton Rouge where he lived, the law enforcement officials who protect us every day, and our great state."

The state decision comes nearly a year after the US Department of Justice said it found insufficient evidence to charge the two officers in the shooting.

Click HERE to read the full report from the Attorney General's office.

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Lawyer expects Baton Rouge officer to be fired over shooting http://www.wbrz.com/news/lawyer-expects-baton-rouge-officer-to-be-fired-over-shooting/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lawyer-expects-baton-rouge-officer-to-be-fired-over-shooting/ Alton Sterling Tue, 27 Mar 2018 2:41:45 PM WBRZ Staff, Associated Press Lawyer expects Baton Rouge officer to be fired over shooting

BATON ROUGE (AP) - An attorney for a Baton Rouge police officer who shot and killed a black man during a struggle says he expects the city's police chief to fire his client.
Officer Blane Salamoni's lawyer, John McLindon, says it's "grossly unfair" that Police Chief Murphy Paul plans to hold a disciplinary hearing less than a week after the end of a criminal investigation of Alton Sterling's July 2016 shooting death.
Paul says he hopes to complete the police department's disciplinary process for the two officers involved in Sterling's deadly shooting by Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, Louisiana's attorney general ruled out state criminal charges against Salamoni or Officer Howie Lake II.
McLindon says he believes it's a "foregone conclusion" that Paul will fire Salamoni.

An attorney representing Howie Lake, the second officer involved in the shooting, tells WBRZ he doesn't believe Lake will be fired. The attorney added that they  would appeal if the department chose to fire the officer.

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EXCLUSIVE: Mayor speaks out after call for firing of BRPD officer http://www.wbrz.com/news/exclusive-mayor-speaks-out-after-call-for-firing-of-brpd-officer/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/exclusive-mayor-speaks-out-after-call-for-firing-of-brpd-officer/ Alton Sterling Wed, 24 May 2017 4:17:01 PM Alicia Serrano and Chris Nakamoto EXCLUSIVE: Mayor speaks out after call for firing of BRPD officer

BATON ROUGE – Mayor Sharon Weston Broome is speaking out in her first on camera interview after she wrote a letter to attorneys for Alton Sterling's family saying she believes Officer Blaine Salamoni should be fired. 

The Mayor said the week following the federal decision not to indict the officers, she had a meeting with the feds.

"After having a consultation with the Department of Justice after their announcement, it became clear to me based upon the info they provided to me and Chief Dabadie that certainly officer Salamoni obstructed a lot of police policy and procedures," Broome said.

Broome said that went into her decision process to ask the chief to terminate Salamoni and discipline Officer Howie Lake.

On Thursday morning the Baton Rouge Union of Police issued a response to Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's call for the firing of one of the BRPD officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling.

The union stated that "it is confusing to us that the Mayor-President would call for the termination of our Officers before the legal process has concluded." The full statement is below:

"The Baton Rouge Union of Police stand behind the men and women of the Baton Rouge Police Department and the citizens of Baton Rouge.  It is confusing to us that the Mayor-President would call for the termination of our Officers before the legal process has concluded, thus preventing their due process.  For us to be a truly unified city, our leaders MUST not divide us."

Broome said she welcomes the Union to discuss issues with them, but said she believes the Union needs to re-examine positions they have taken in prior instances.

This entire controversy stems from attorneys for the Sterling family sending a letter to the Baton Rouge Police Department and Mayor Broome demanding the firing of BRPD Officers Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni.

The letter demands the "immediate termination" of Officer Blane Salamoni from the police department. The demand stems from the family's meeting with the Department of Justice where the family was informed that Officer Salamoni "walked up to a non-confrontational Alton Sterling and put his department-issued firearm to the side of Mr. Sterling's head and stated, 'B***h, I will shoot you in your mother f***ing head,' the letter notes. The document further suggests that such behavior is rumored to be "common."

Broome's response three hours later Wednesday afternoon stated, "I believe they should be removed from paid administrative leave and disciplined consistent with the severity of their actions. In Officer Salamoni's case, this warrants termination." She further wrote that she will "following up with a hand-delivered letter to the chief stating such."

Broome described Salamoni's actions as "disturbing and reprehensible" and understood the "outrage" of Sterling's family and the community. 

Broome wrote that she has voiced her concerns to BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie about the employment statuses of Salamoni and Lake and said that the chief's next steps are important. 

Click here to read Mayor Broome's full response letter. 

The attorneys' letter, signed by Attorneys L. Chris Stewart, Brandon Decuir, Justin Bamberg and Michael RD Adams, notes that Salamoni's actions are a "direct violation of BRPD's policy regarding de-escalation."

They say his behavior escalated the situation and "placed in Mr. Sterling's mind that he was going to be killed no matter what he did even if he complied," the letter cites.

The letter further states that the attorneys have requested all documents on the officers' past behavior.

"The lack of any action by the Mayor and Chief of Police have forced the attorneys for the Sterling family to now request all documents related to discipline within the BRPD, in order to determine if all officers are being treated equally regarding discipline no matter the race, gender or family ties."

To read the attorney's full letter click here.

When asked what would happen if Police Chief Carl Dabadie doesn't heed Broome's suggestion to fire Salamoni, she responded, "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

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Bond set at $25k for man accused of threatening BRPD officers, families http://www.wbrz.com/news/bond-set-at-25k-for-man-accused-of-threatening-brpd-officers-families/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/bond-set-at-25k-for-man-accused-of-threatening-brpd-officers-families/ Alton Sterling Thu, 4 May 2017 9:13:43 PM Austin Hart Bond set at $25k for man accused of threatening BRPD officers, families

BATON ROUGE - A Zachary man has been arrested for making threats against Baton Rouge Police Department Officers and their families on social media.

Louisiana State Police say Thallemus Thomas made a post on social media in a different name. The post read "It's time Baton Rouge u didn't learn from the police killing n Baton Rouge."  The post goes on to say "we will find the cops and execute them if we can't find them, we will kill one of their family members."

Police detained Thomas and, during an interview, told officers he created the account he made the post on using the name of someone causing problems with him and his girlfriend.  He also told officers he was reading the comments on a post about the recent decision in the Alton Sterling case, became angry, and wrote his post.

Thomas was booked on various charges, including terrorizing. His bond was set at $25,000 Friday morning.

The full post circulated around sites including Facebook earlier Thursday. WBRZ obtained the text of the disturbing and vulgar post, which can be viewed below.

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Bible study switches focus following Sterling decision http://www.wbrz.com/news/bible-study-switches-focus-following-sterling-decision/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/bible-study-switches-focus-following-sterling-decision/ Alton Sterling Wed, 3 May 2017 10:54:52 PM Danielle Jackson Bible study switches focus following Sterling decision

BATON ROUGE - A normal Wednesday night bible study shifted it's focus following the reveal of the federal government's decision in their investigation into the Alton Sterling shooting.

Star Hill Baptist Church is about two blocks from the store Sterling was shot and killed at in July 2016. Tonight, the handful that gathered did not want to focus on the Justice Department's decision, but instead, focus on a message of turning to a higher power.

"People are distressed," Pastor Raymond Jetson said. "What we heard today is actually true, that a citizen of this community had a gun placed to his head and threated earlier on in an encounter. We as a community have to ask, is that acceptable behavior for someone who is sworn to protect and serve?"

Jetson said he sees his role as one of helping to navigate his congregation, and the community, forward in forgiveness and peace.

"As a community, we have to recognize that there are wounds before we can begin to heal," Jetson said.

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Together Baton Rouge wants Alton Sterling video released http://www.wbrz.com/news/together-baton-rouge-wants-alton-sterling-video-released/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/together-baton-rouge-wants-alton-sterling-video-released/ Alton Sterling Wed, 3 May 2017 7:05:36 PM Mark Armstrong Together Baton Rouge wants Alton Sterling video released

BATON ROUGE- Community activist group Together Baton Rouge wants officials to release all videos that captured the Alton Sterling shooting last year.

"The only way the public can have some satisfaction is to the know the facts," Reverend Lee Wesley said. "And the facts will not be known unless all the footage is released."

Videos already made public don't show if Sterling reached for the gun is his pocket before he was shot by Baton Rouge police at the Triple S convenience store last July. Acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson said Wednesday the additional police and store surveillance video don't clear up the matter.

"The evidence also cannot establish that Sterling was not reaching for a gun," Amundson said.

Wesley said he will request Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to release the police video because it is "the property of East Baton Rouge Parish" and therefore a public record.

Broome said at a Wednesday news conference the investigation is in the hands of the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. At the same news conference, Governor John Bel Edwards said the video would likely remain secret until the Attorney General's Office completes its investigation.

Together Baton Rouge also called on its members to spread peace and activism throughout the community in the aftermath of the Department of Justice's decision to not charge the two officers in Sterling's death. They want a number of reforms to the Baton Rouge Police Department including more training, higher wages, and minority recruitment.

The group also asked the public to not "participate in a narrative of fear" about possible protests.

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Out-of-town reporters try to show Baton Rouge 'on edge' http://www.wbrz.com/news/out-of-town-reporters-try-to-show-baton-rouge-on-edge-/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/out-of-town-reporters-try-to-show-baton-rouge-on-edge-/ Alton Sterling Tue, 2 May 2017 10:45:35 AM Trey Schmaltz Out-of-town reporters try to show Baton Rouge 'on edge'

BATON ROUGE – For the fourth time in less than a year, this usually unassuming city along the Mississippi has the attention of the nation.

National news outlets and media from New Orleans are zeroing in on the atmosphere here, as speculation continues on when the Justice Department will release its findings into the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of local police. Sterling was shot and killed by two Baton Rouge Police officers in July. The shooting spawned civil unrest and precipitated the shooting deaths of three law enforcement officers and the injuring of a handful of others when a crazed man opened fire on lawmen on a sunny summer Sunday morning.

A decision by the Justice Department will reveal whether or not the officers involved violated Sterling's civil rights and could determine if the cops are indicted.

Unofficial word spread like wildfire last week – a middle school game of telephone suggested federal authorities would reveal something Tuesday, May 2. While no one knows for sure when Washington will announce the results of its inquiry, nor is it clear what will be decided, many are certain whatever comes out will be followed by rallies and protests.

As people in Baton Rouge continue on with their lives, reporters are telling stories of a city “on edge.” NBC News reported overnight, people are seeing more police.

“...You already know [the decision is not] going to be favorable,” Silky Slim told network reporters in an interview where he said he'd already seen “busloads” of officers eating around town. "That don't look promising when they come in like that," he said.

NBC News titled its report “Baton Rouge Bracing for Department of Justice Announcement.”

New Orleans reporters were quick to travel from the Crescent City – where there were overnight protests about removing Confederate monuments – to Baton Rouge to report on the “concern” here.

“The feeling of the whole thing is very eerie,”  Silky Slim said in another TV interview, this one with New Orleans' NBC station, WDSU. The reporter ended her story from the Triple S store where Sterling was shot.

As locals move on with the day, authorities remind people to stay calm. Schools have sent messages to parents, alerting them that schools won't close but campuses will be prepared.

Law enforcement said it is not privy to any decision by the Justice Department but will be ready whenever information is released.

U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond, who blasted the federal government last week for letting rumors fester, said in an interview Tuesday morning, he wasn't sure any information would be released Tuesday.

“It could be anytime in the next two weeks, but we don't have a definitive time period,” Richmond told WBRZ reporter Natalia Verdina in an interview via Twitter.

Late Tuesday, national media reported a decision was reached.  But, the Justice Department has not revealed its decision.  Click HERE to read more. 


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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ABC News: BRPD officers won't be charged in Alton Sterling shooting http://www.wbrz.com/news/abc-news-brpd-officers-won-t-be-charged-in-alton-sterling-shooting/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/abc-news-brpd-officers-won-t-be-charged-in-alton-sterling-shooting/ Alton Sterling Tue, 2 May 2017 4:22:36 PM WBRZ staff ABC News: BRPD officers won't be charged in Alton Sterling shooting

WASHINGTON – ABC News is reporting that the two Baton Rouge Police Department officers that were involved in the shooting of Alton Sterling will not be charged by the Department of Justice.

The news was first reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday afternoon with the original report citing "four people familiar with the matter." Additionally, the article states that Sterling's family attorney has not yet received an update and is "unaware of any charges that may or may not be filed."

Read the full report from The Washington Post here. 

Sandra Sterling told WBRZ that it "hurts so bad" after reading the report from The Washington Post.

"It's like we waited all this time for nothing and as we were going through the process I kept asking them 'what happens if they back with a decision?' They said 'Well it will be worth the wait,'" Sterling said.

"No, it's not worth the wait, it's not worth the wait. All of this was for nothing, but it just hurts so bad," Sterling said.

ABC News later reported on the decision as well. ABC cited sources saying the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to announce as soon as Wednesday that it will not be filing charges against officers tied to last year’s death of Alton Sterling.

Not long after national media outlets broke news from Washington, D.C., a vigil previously scheduled at the store where the shooting happened grew to a crowd of people. Those attending the vigil chanted “No justice, no peace,” but said they're not meant to be taken literally.

Governor John Bel Edwards' office said that they were not notified of any decision and released a statement shortly after the report was published Tuesday afternoon.

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

Attorney General Jeff Landry also said the Justice Department has not released an official statement and says his office will not comment until it does.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued a statement regarding the Washington Post report Wednesday afternoon. The mayor says she has not heard any confirmation of the decision from the Department of Justice at this time and remains in constant contact with the governor.

“I am appalled that this news, whether true or false, has been disseminated without a formal decision being relayed to the Sterling family first. As I’ve said before, when I know something, the people of Baton Rouge will know — and we will get through it together,” the mayor said.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy tweeted his response later Tuesday afternoon.

Representative Cedric Richmond tweeted a response to the report, saying that it "completely undermines the credibility and transparency of the Justice Department."

Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot by two Baton Rouge Police Department officers outside of the Triple S convenience store in north Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016. A video of the shooting showed the officers wrestle Sterling to the ground, shots being fired and then Sterling bleeding from his chest. Since the shooting, the officers involved, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, have been on administrative leave. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, an announcement has not been made directly by the Department of Justice regarding the case. 

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Vigil and picket outside police headquarters overnight following Sterling reports http://www.wbrz.com/news/vigil-and-picket-outside-police-headquarters-overnight-following-sterling-reports/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/vigil-and-picket-outside-police-headquarters-overnight-following-sterling-reports/ Alton Sterling Tue, 2 May 2017 9:36:21 PM Trey Schmaltz Vigil and picket outside police headquarters overnight following Sterling reports

BATON ROUGE – Not long after national media outlets – including ABC News, the network affiliated with WBRZ – broke news from Washington, D.C., that sources inside the Justice Department revealed the two officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling wouldn't face federal charges, a vigil previously scheduled at the store where the shooting happened grew to a crowd of people.

People lined the streets around the Triple S, chanting and holding signs. People attending the vigil chanted “No justice, no peace,” but said they're not meant to be taken literally.

“What we mean... is, we ain't about to be tearing up stuff, but understand that as long as there's no justice in this country, there will be no peace,” a person said.

Others held signs promoting peace and love.

By 10 o'clock Tuesday, the store parking lot had filled with people.

Outside Baton Rouge Police Headquarters, a smaller group of people held signs as drivers whizzed down Airline Highway at the Goodwood intersection.

Gatherings came about following reports the officers involved wouldn't be charged, but there's been no official word from the Justice Department. The mayor of Baton Rouge has asked that rallies and gatherings stay peaceful in the wake of an official announcement.

Read the original WBRZ.com story about the Washington Post and ABC News reports HERE.


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz 

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Three protesters arrested near BRPD headquarters early Wednesday http://www.wbrz.com/news/three-protesters-arrested-near-brpd-headquarters-early-wednesday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/three-protesters-arrested-near-brpd-headquarters-early-wednesday/ Alton Sterling Wed, 3 May 2017 4:43:19 AM WBRZ staff Three protesters arrested near BRPD headquarters early Wednesday

BATON ROUGE - Three protesters were arrested after an attempt to close Airline Highway near Baton Rouge Police Headquarters early Wednesday morning.

Kiara Jones, 19, was charged with Aggravated Obstruction of Highway, Battery on Police Officer, Failure to Disperse, Resisting an Officer. Jones was charged with simple obstruction of a highway last summer.

Deon Fountain, 33, was charged with Failure to Disperse, Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway, Resisting an Officer. Wednesday, a judge said there was no probabe cause against Fountain and she was released. 

Kystal Sonia, 45, was charged with Failure to Disperse, Aggravated Obstruction of a Highway, Resisting an Officer, Illegal Carrying of a Weapon. Sonia was charged with simple obstruction of a highway last summer.

The three women will be booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Jones and Sonia were released on bond Wednesday.

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DOJ: 'insufficient evidence' to charge officers in Sterling shooting http://www.wbrz.com/news/doj-insufficient-evidence-to-charge-officers-in-sterling-shooting/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/doj-insufficient-evidence-to-charge-officers-in-sterling-shooting/ Alton Sterling Wed, 3 May 2017 7:25:10 AM Alicia Serrano DOJ: 'insufficient evidence' to charge officers in Sterling shooting

BATON ROUGE – The Department of Justice has officially announced that the two Baton Rouge Police Department officers who were involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling will not be charged, citing "insufficient evidence."

Acting United States Attorney Corey Amundson for the Middle District of Louisiana said that he along with all of the agents and prosecutors involved in the federal investigation agreed that there was insufficient evidence to charge BRPD officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II with a federal civil rights violation. 

Amundson said that in order to federally charge the officers, the Department of Justice "would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers acted willfully with the specific intent to do something that the law forbid."

Amundson stated that the officers responded to a call at the Triple S convenience store in north Baton Rouge at 12:30 a.m. on July 5, 2016. The 911 caller reported that he was threatened by a black man wearing a red shirt who was outside of the store selling CD's. The caller reported the man pulled a gun out and that he had a gun in his pocket. Amundson stated that the entire exchange between Sterling and the officers lasted about 90 seconds.

Amundson said the Department of Justice examined videos from the officers' body cameras, police vehicle, the store's surveillance and cell phones.

The videos show the officers commanding Sterling to put his hands on the hood of a car and when Sterling did not comply, a struggle ensued. Amundson stated that Officer Salamoni then pointed his gun at Sterling's head and then Sterling put his hands on the hood. When Sterling tried to move his hands, Officer Lake used his Taser on Sterling, causing him to fall to his knees and then get back up. The officers told him to get back down and then Lake tried unsuccessfully to use his Taser again.

According to Amundson, Salamoni tackled Sterling to the ground. Lake went to the ground as well, kneeling on Sterling's left arm while Salamoni attempted to control his right arm. Salamoni then yelled that Sterling was going for his gun and Lake drew his gun. Salamoni yelled that Sterling was going for his gun a second time and fired three shots into Sterling's chest. Sterling then began to sit up and rolled over when Salamoni fired three more shots in his back.

Amundson said that in order to federally charge the officers, "we must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ use of force was objectively unreasonable based on the circumstances at the time and based on their perceptions at the time."

"Under this standard it is not enough to show an officer acted recklessly or with negligence or acted with a specific intent or by mistake, exercise bad judgment, use poor tactics or even that the officer escalated the situation where he could have de-escalated. Those things are not violations under federal criminal civil rights laws," Amundson said. 

Amundson went on to say that there are "no winners" in the case.

The full text from the DOJ decision can be read here. 

Sterling family reaction

Sterling's family met with representatives of the Department of Justice inside the Federal Courthouse prior to the announcement on Wednesday afternoon. The family and family's attorneys held a separate press conference just outside the courthouse after the decision was announced. 

Sandra Sterling, Alton Sterling's aunt, told WBRZ that the meeting and decision went "horrible."

 "I’m still emotionally messed up because the things that I heard in this meeting today was horrible. It was horrible what he did," she said.

She stated that what was reported in the news about the shooting before the decision by the Department of Justice was announced was nothing in comparison to what the family heard in the meeting.

"It's so much worse," she said. "When they said 'It's going to get better,' no, it got worse," she said.

She stated that the "suffering still continues."

Quinyetta McMillon, mother of Alton Sterling's oldest son, pleaded with the community to continue to demand for justice. 

"It can't stop right here," McMillion said. "We deserve it if nobody else, we deserve it." 

Cameron Sterling, Alton Sterling's 16-year-old son, briefly addressed reporters and stated that his faith is what he relies on moving forward.

"No matter if we get justice or not, we depend on God because God is an unjust God and he will always be there for us no matter what," Cameron Sterling said. 

"No matter what goes on behind those closed doors in that court, it doesn’t matter because we still have to depend on God," he said.

Cameron Sterling went on to say that he is his father's legacy and he will always support his family.

Governor, Mayor ask for peaceful reactions

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference an hour after the announcement. Broome began by stating that despite the Department of Justice's decision, that "does not mean that the police officers acted appropriately."

Broome said that she understood citizens who are angry about the decision and stated that they have the right to protest if they feel the need to do so, however to remain peaceful. Broome also stated that moving forward she will be "strong and firm" in making sure Baton Rouge citizens are safe.

Governor John Bel Edwards reiterated the call for citizens to remain peaceful and prayerful as the community continues to heal and for the sake of Alton Sterling's family. Edwards also called for citizens to be "peacemakers."

When asked about the decision being leaked to the Washington Post on Tuesday, both Broome and Edwards expressed their disapproval. 

"I don’t know anyone who was satisfied with the way the decision leaked,” Broome said.

Edwards went on to say that he believed the family was completely disrespected as the Department of Justice told them they would be notified first.

“It was very disrespectful to tell the family that they would know first and then it came from the media,” Edwards said. "I do hope there will be some investigation on how the leak occurred," Edwards said.

The decision was first reported Tuesday afternoon by a Washington Post report, citing "four people familiar with the case." Later, major television networks were able to independently confirm the decision.

Both Broome and Edwards said the conversation of the relationship between law enforcement and the community will continue and they have full confidence in the state investigation that will be conducted. 

What happens next?

Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that he has directed the Department of Justice to forward their investigative materials to the Louisiana State Police to conduct a state investigation. Additionally, Landry said that he has assigned a special prosecutor from the Louisiana Department of Justice to assist in the state investigation.

"Had the USDOJ not been tasked to lead this investigation, there is no doubt LSP would have led the investigation," Landry's statement noted.  

According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, both Officer Salamoni and Officer Lake will remain on administrative leave. Both Salamoni and Lake have been on administrative leave since the shooting occurred. 

BRPD officer Howie Lake's attorney, Fred Crifasi, released a statement of his behalf stating that Lake will not comment on the case as the state investigation begins.  

"While Officer Lake is certainly relieved by the conclusion reached by the United States Department of Justice, he is aware that this investigation is now in the hands of the Attorney General for the State of Louisiana. Accordingly, he will continue to refrain from publicly commenting on the facts of the case," the statement read. 

Community leaders/officials react

Congressman Cedric Richmond stated that he was disappointed by the Department of Justice's decision, but praised Attorney General Jeff Landry for the decision to pursue a state investigation. Richmond's full statement is below:

"Today's announcement, and the process that led to it, leaves me extremely disappointed. However, I am convinced the fight for justice for Alton Sterling continues. I grieve for Sandra and the entire Sterling family as they have been forced to relive the horror they experienced more than 10 months ago.
"I commend Attorney General Landry's swift decision to pursue an investigation, led by State Police. While the standards for federal charges are extremely high, standards under state law are broader and may be more easily applied to the facts of this case. The Sterling family deserves a thorough, transparent investigation by state officials.
"I share the concerns of the Sterling family regarding the way they learned of DOJ's decision. There is no reason they should have read about the decision in the media with no direct contact from Justice officials for days. We deserve better from the department and I look forward to engaging Justice officials, through the relevant oversight committees in Congress, to get to the bottom of this failure of leadership."

Congressman Garret Graves stated that the shootings in 2016, although tragic, can be experiences to learn from. Graves’ full statement is below:

"We cannot allow the tragic shootings of 2016 or the fallout to define us or our community, but we can learn from those experiences.
All loss of life is tragic.  We've already lost Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, Officer Montrell Jackson and Alton Sterling.  Deputy Nick Tullier is an amazing warrior overcoming all obstacles, but his life is forever changed and Deputy Bruce Simmons continues to recover from being shot.  Nothing good has resulted from these shootings.  Right or wrong, each loss represents a loved one, a friend, a confident, a husband, a community member – a life or part of life suddenly, prematurely, and in many cases, senselessly taken.   
The abundant evidence in this case –video footage, eyewitness accounts and other sources – faced the extensive scrutiny of both President Obama's Department of Justice and the current Administration's. Due to the prolific evidence, this decision should have been issued sooner; however, we trust that this decision is the product of a meticulous and fair investigation.
The Capital Region has endured tremendous hardship – this tragedy, an ambush attack on law enforcement, historical flooding and the recent fatal shooting of a Baton Rouge Deputy.  We now have two choices:  1) We can come together as a community, be neighbors and lift one another up as we did in the August flood, or 2) We can, once again, go down the path of violence, death and loss.  Only one makes sense.
I was born and raised in the Baton Rouge area.  What I experienced on July 17 when our officers were shot was unrecognizable.  It was like we were in a foreign country – not home.  An outsider spread his evil and hatred here.  Someone from out of state hijacked our community.  While Baton Rouge has its share of imperfections, we are better than that. 
From here, let's work with our new mayor to convert the city we have into the city we want. I urge our community to continue to pray for the victims and their families and to pray for peace and understanding."

Bishop Robert W. Muench, of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, stated that he believes there is a racial divide in the community and asks for citizens to bring about change and healing. Muench's full statement is below:

"The United States Department of Justice has handed down its decision. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the decision, one thing remains the same: there is a racial divide in our city that exposes a gap of access and opportunity.
We must dedicate ourselves to work for racial healing and transformation in Baton Rouge. While recognizing the universal respect we should have for those whose duty is to ensure our public safety, we must work together for law enforcement and criminal justice reform, economic development in all parts of the city, access to health care for all, quality education, and employment opportunities.

The flood of 2016 demonstrated the strengths of our beloved city in times of crisis. We saw a self-sacrificing and compassionate embrace of those in need, regardless of color or ethnicity. Now that strength needs to be put into action to heal the wounds in our city.

I call upon Catholics of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, members of all faith communities, and people of good will to seize this opportunity to bring about healing and change. This moment calls for conversion of mind, heart, and spirit that is both personal and systemic.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge has established a Racial Harmony Commission that is working on ways that we as a diocese can respond to this challenge and build bridges of dialogue, understanding, respect, and action.
May God bless our city at this critical time! May God move our hearts and our wills to work for the establishment of His Kingdom of peace and justice on earth."

The Urban League of Louisiana released this statement on the Alton Sterling decision:

The world is watching. Our community is on high alert. Tensions are high. Hearts are broken.  And "justice" continues to evade us.
For ten months, the family of Alton Sterling has patiently waited to learn about the fate of Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers involved in their loved one's murder. Yesterday, the family and the rest of the world learned through an article published by the Washington Post that the officers would face no federal civil rights charges. The Sterling family deserved to be notified directly by the Department of Justice long before this decision became front-page news in a national media outlet. 
Many have become desensitized to police shootings, and do not feign shock when officers are not held accountable.  Instead, it's chalked up to flaws in the system. However, we must confront the real criminal justice reform that's needed in this country so that our laws do more to actually provide justice rather than shield those with the greatest responsibility to the public from the law. It is incumbent upon us to give our voices and our votes to the continuing battle for equity and justice.  As the Sterling family said today, the battle is not over; it has only just begun.
While bitterly disappointing, the DOJ's announcement comes as no surprise. According to Kelley et. al, (2016) charges are filed in only one percent of fatal shootings involving police. [1] This precedent equates to government sanctioned murder, a status quo the community and the Urban League at large is simply unwilling to accept. So, now all eyes are on Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who has released a statement announcing that the Louisiana State Police will launch its own investigation into the conduct of the officers and the appointment of a special prosecutor who will determine if Officers Salamoni and Lake will face criminal charges by the state. While the Urban League fully supports this step, we will be vigilant in our commitment to ensure that a fair and neutral process is conducted in the pursuit of justice for Alton Sterling, his family, and the city of Baton Rouge. We also encourage the BRPD to examine the conduct of these officers to determine if it meets the expectations of the departments' standard of professionalism. Based on new details released in today's press conference by the Sterling family and their attorneys, it appears that there may be grounds for the officers' termination.
ULLA is actively involved in advocating for criminal justice reform and is encouraged by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's work to establish new policies within the BRPD regarding use of force guidelines. The League is continuing to pursue its own reform-centered, criminal justice policy agenda, which includes a push for expanded trainings on de-escalation, bias police recognition, crisis intervention, and other pertinent issues.[2] The cost to implement these trainings is far less than the cost of losing a life, settling civil suits, and losing public trust. By providing the law enforcement community with this training, those who are entrusted with securing our public safety will have the tools to execute their role more effectively and safely.  We are also reigniting our call for the establishment of an independent, civilian review board or an independent agency to monitor excessive force complaints, officer-involved shootings and fatal force incidents in East Baton Rouge.

For the past five months, ULLA staff has convened hundreds of community members including law enforcement officials, youth, young professionals, community leaders and a cadre of African American residents in East Baton Rouge to facilitate dialogues generating community-based solutions to address public safety and community-police relations. The League surveyed approximately 200 East Baton Rouge residents about their perceptions and experiences with police. Over 60% of respondents indicated that police do not treat all citizens equally according to the law, 67% agreed that the police do not make enough contact with residents and about 80% indicated that they want police to partner with community members and groups to solve problems in their communities. The Urban League of Louisiana is committed to working with the community to develop partnerships with law enforcement to bring about the necessary change.
The world is watching. Our hearts are broken, but our resolve is strong. And we will not stop our fight until the status quo is transformed into justice for all.

A panel of experts talked to WBRZ about their reactions to the DOJ announcement. Prem Burns, former prosecutor of the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office, Pat Englade, former chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department and John Pierre, Southern University Law Center Chancellor were included in the panel. 

Burns said that about 95 percent of cases that go to the Department of Justice go without being prosecuted. 

Pierre said the shooting highlighted that "there are a lot of problems in Baton Rouge that city leaders are going to have to address." 

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Rep: 'We don't have a definitive time period' for Sterling announcement http://www.wbrz.com/news/rep-we-don-t-have-a-definitive-time-period-for-sterling-announcement/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/rep-we-don-t-have-a-definitive-time-period-for-sterling-announcement/ Alton Sterling Tue, 2 May 2017 11:02:20 AM Kevin Dupuy and Alicia Serrano Rep: 'We don't have a definitive time period' for Sterling announcement

BATON ROUGE – A Louisiana representative who suggested a Tuesday announcement date for a Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling shooting now says he is unsure.

In a Tuesday video Twitter town hall with the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D – House District 2) said he believes the announcement from the DOJ could come anytime in the next two weeks.

“We don’t have a definitive time period,” Richmond responded to a tweet from WBRZ’s Natalia Verdina.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie told Talk107.3 Tuesday morning that he has not received any warning on a DOJ announcement.

"I would like to think we would get some advance warning as to when it's going to come out," Dabadie said. "But as of right now, we haven't gotten that."

Click here to listen to Dabadie's full interview with Talk107.3. 

Richmond urged federal authorities to be more open about its investigation in a letter last week. He said he was frustrated by chatter among local officials that the DOJ is expected to release details about the investigation this week.

“… persistent rumors are circulating in the Baton Rouge area… rumors have risen to the point that local schools and other organizations are expediting funds to prepare for a Tuesday announcement,” Rep. Richmond wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

WBRZ has been working to confirm details of a possible federal announcement this week, but sources have refused to be identified by name in reports, and chatter has been similar to rumors of an announcement expected earlier in 2017 and in late 2016. Rep. Richmond was the first official to publicly speak – and identify Tuesday as a date of an announcement.

A federal announcement is expected to determine if Sterling's civil rights were violated by his shooting death. The Justice Department should reveal whether or not the two officers will be indicted or not.

WBRZ recorded video Friday evening of obvious police activity in certain areas – barricades being stored around Baton Rouge Police Headquarters, the center of protests following Sterling's death.


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Mayor, others pray for peaceful reaction to Alton Sterling decision http://www.wbrz.com/news/mayor-others-pray-for-peaceful-reaction-to-alton-sterling-decision/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/mayor-others-pray-for-peaceful-reaction-to-alton-sterling-decision/ Alton Sterling Sun, 30 Apr 2017 10:18:42 PM Earl Phelps Mayor, others pray for peaceful reaction to Alton Sterling decision

BATON ROUGE - Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome served as the guest speaker for Women's Day at Greater Beach Grove Baptist Church Sunday morning.

The day was planned long before speculation arose about the Alton Sterling decision, but the mayor did not shy away from the topic.

"I thought it would be a good Sunday, whether the decision is next week, week after, or whenever, to call the community to a season of prayer," Broome said.

As church members sang, worshiped and prayed, they looked to the mayor to lead them to a peaceful resolution, regardless of the decision of the US Justice Department .

"The mayor's message today was very touching and encouraging," church member Carolyn Gross said. "That's unity. And by unity, we bring strength."

But, they can't help but wonder what's going to happen after the announcement in the Alton Sterling case.

"Rather than look at the negative, we have to look at the positive. What do we do after the decision is made?" Reverend Neon Spurlock of the Beach Grove Church said.

State Senator Regina Barrow also attended Sunday's church service and says she's more concerned over out-of-town agitators coming and causing a disturbance.

"I hope people would not try to come in and try to cause aggravation in our city and just allow us to deal with the issue at hand the way we deal with things," Barrow said.

Members of the church now look to a higher power as they anticipate the next step in the Alton Sterling case.

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