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AG says state will not charge officers in Alton Sterling shooting

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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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