Baton Rouge, La – The citizens of Baton Rouge have waited almost a year for a decision to be made in the Alton Sterling case. Rumors began to spread throughout the city during the last weeks of April and caused lots of outrage, frustration, and uproar to rise again.
According to the Washington Post, the Justice Department has decided not to bring charges against the officers involved in the death of Alton Sterling, whose videotaped shooting by police in Baton Rouge last summer prompted unrest across the city, and is planning to reveal in the next 24 hours that it has closed the probe, according to four people familiar with the matter.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Sterling family had yet to be informed by the Justice Department of the decision, and it is unclear how and when the department will announce its findings.
“We have not heard nor received an update and are unaware of any charges that may or may not be filed,” said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the Sterling family’s attorneys. “We have not received word, nor has the family been given any notice of upcoming updates regarding this case.”
The case will be the first time under Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department has publicly declined to prosecute officers investigated for possible wrongdoing in a high-profile case, and officials in Baton Rouge have been girding for possible reaction there.
Sterling’s death last summer sparked tense protests across the city. President Barack Obama weighed in on the matter then, declaring his confidence in the Justice Department probe and remarking, “we have seen tragedies like this too many times.”
On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, Baton Rouge officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, fatally shot and killed Alton Sterling after they tased and tackled him to the ground in front of Triple S Food Mart on the corner of Fairfields Ave and North Foster Drive.
Alton Sterling was a black man trying to make an earnest living for his 5 young children.
Videos of the horrific shooting show when Salamoni and Lake II both have Alton pinned on the car next to a gray Toyota Camry. Moments later, four to five shots were fired and the CD man passed away on the scene. Right after he was shot and killed, one of the officers reached into his pocket and removed a small hand gun and tossed it in the patrol car.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Howie Lake II, 28, has served for 3 years and already have been involved in two shootings. Lake II was one of six officers involved in a 2014 shooting. Kevin Knight was survived the shooting and Lake II was not charged.
According to WBRZ, Lake II had a second use of force complaint filed in April 2014. Details of that incident have not been released, but he was also cleared of wrongdoing.
Blane Salamoni, 28, comes from a family of police officers and has only been a cop for 4 years. Salamoni’s mother is a retired BRPD captain and his father is currently captain of the BRPD Special Operations and ran for police chief 3 years ago.
Both were put on paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol.
On June 17, 2015, Salamoni got into a vehicle pursuit in the 6500 block of Airline Highway. Ver Crawford had allegedly pushed his father out of the moving vehicle and fled when police arrived. A Taser was used on Crawford and he had injuries after his arrest.
In August of 2015, BRPD investigated a use-of-force complaint after Salamoni had an altercation with a man that required the man to get stitches.
On Aug. 5, a man allegedly tried to take Salamoni’s Taser during an arrest. The man required stiches to close a head wound afterward. Investigators reported that the man appeared to be drunk at the time.
According to BRPD’s Internal Affairs officer history, Salamoni was cautioned in 2012 for damaging a police car in a “preventable crash.”
Police received a call shortly after midnight from an unidentified caller claiming a man was in front of a store threatening someone with a gun. The store owner, Abdullah Muflahi said he saw Sterling being thrown on top of a car hood. He said Sterling appeared confused and kept asking, “What did I do wrong?”
He called Sterling “Big Boy” and said he was always laughing or joking around. Muflahi said Sterling had been selling CDs for years outside his store and never created any problems.
The Department of Justice took over the case to justify if Sterling’s civil rights were violated.