by Monte McCoin
Two white police officers who were involved in the 2016 death of an unarmed black man at a Baton Rouge convenience store were disciplined, but not criminally charged, for their roles in the incident, despite body-cam video evidence that appears to show the use of excessive force.
Although Alton Sterling’s death by police shooting was captured by at least six video sources, including footage from Baton Rouge Police Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II’s body-worn cameras.
On March 27, 2018, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that no state charges would be filed against the pair for their roles in Sterling’s death. “This decision was not taken lightly,” Landry said. “We came to this conclusion after countless hours of reviewing the evidence.” Federal prosecutors previously declined to press charges in May 2017.
The two officers had separate disciplinary hearings on March 30, 2018. Salamoni was fired for violating use-of-force policies, while Lake was suspended for three days without pay for “losing his temper” during the incident.
The same day, video footage was released to the public on what Sterling family attorney L. Chris Stewart called “a day for truth.” Stewart clarified, “And what that truth is, is the silent complaint – or the loud one – of every black person in the inner city who has to deal with an officer like Blane Salamoni.”
Attorneys filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June 2017 on behalf of Sterling’s five minor children, which claims Salamoni and Lake violated their father’s civil rights and continued a pattern of excessive force and racism within the police department’s ranks.
The suit, which is ongoing, names Salamoni and Lake, as well as the Parish of East Baton Rouge, the City of Baton Rouge and its police department, then-Chief of Police Carl Dabadie Jr., and XYZ Insurance Co. as defendants. It seeks punitive damages, attorney fees, and court costs and calls for the formation of a national, elected independent body to investigate officer-involved shootings.
Sources: alternet.org, time.com, cnn.com, nydailynews.com, nola.com
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