Officers involved in Alton Sterling case to find out if they will lose their jobs

Baton Rouge, La., officers Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake II will find out if they will face discipline for the killing of Alton Sterling.

Alton Sterling
A mural in memory of Alton Sterling is displayed on the wall outside of Triple S Food Mart Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images)

The two Baton Rouge, La., police officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling in 2016 will learn if they will receive any disciplinary action from their department today.

According to CNN, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul is scheduled to hold a news conference at 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. CT) to announce the department’s decision, which will primarily reflect the investigation into their policies and procedures, determining if the officers violated protocol.

On Tuesday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced that it was determined that Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II would not be prosecuted for their deadly actions. 

“Our investigation has concluded that officers Lake and Salamoni attempted to make a lawful arrest of Alton Sterling based on probable cause,” he said. “Sterling continued to resist the officer’s arrest.”

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Additionally, four more videos are to be released on Friday which were recorded on the night of the controversial incident.

Last year, the Justice Department determined that there was “insufficient evidence” to pursue charges. 

“Given the totality of the circumstances — that the officers had been fighting with Sterling and had attempted less-than-lethal methods of control; that they knew Sterling had a weapon; that Sterling had reportedly brandished a gun at another person; and that Sterling was much larger and stronger than either officer — the Department cannot prove either that the shots were unconstitutional or that they were willful.”

The news that came on Tuesday followed an internal investigation from the police department into whether or not they would pursue their own charges against the officers. 

“When I see the video, I see the dad of my son killed in cold blood,” said Quintela McMillan, the mother of Sterling’s oldest son following Tuesday’s decision.

McMillan stated that she didn’t have faith that the state would find the officers at fault, but she is hoping that the officers will at least lose their jobs over the shooting.

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“I don’t think either one of them deserves to be in uniform,” she said. It was reported that the officers’ lawyers also expect for their officers to be released from duty.

Both officers have been on paid leave since the start of the investigation in 2016.

What Happened?

According to Attorney General Jeff Landry, Officer Lake first instructed Sterling to place his hands on a vehicle after he saw him engaged in a transaction with two women. He said Sterling failed to respond. Lake then tried to physically control Sterling’s hands in an attempt to get his hands on the car. Salamoni arrives to assist Lake and Sterling continues to resist arrest.

During the struggle, Sterling spins around and pulls his right arm away from Officer Salamoni and that’s when he draws his firearm from his holster and gives Sterling a “loud, aggressive verbal command and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t comply.”

Landry explains that the command proved to be temporarily effective for the officers and as they tried to get Sterling into the police car, he started resisting arrest again. They then used a taser a few times, which also had little effect.

A struggled between the officers and Sterling ensued on the ground and Officer Salamoni is heard saying, “He’s got a gun!”

As the struggle continued Salamoni can then be heard saying, “he’s going for the gun,” ” and fires three shots into Sterling’s chest and rolls away from him.

Lake then stood positioned over Sterling pointing his handgun. Sterling rolled away from Salamoni, tried to get up and then Salamoni fires more shots into his back, killing him. It was revealed that Sterling had a .38 caliber in his pocket.

“These are the facts,” Landry said.

Civil Suit To Follow

In June, Sterling’s family filed a wrongful death suit against the city and police of Baton Rouge.

Sterling’s five children sought unspecified damages from the city, Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. and the police department, and the two officers involved in the shooting.

“This is not about whether the officers should go to jail. It’s about resolving this case for the children who no longer have a father because proper procedures weren’t followed,” L. Chris Stewart, one of the children’s lawyers, said at a news conference.

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The lawsuit, which comprises 26 pages, claims that Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake breached protocol and used excessive force when they shot Sterling while responding to reports at a convenience store that a resident had been threatened by a Black man who was selling CDs. Police claimed that Sterling was moving to pull a gun out of his pocket when he was shot. At the time of the shooting, Baton Rouge did not have a written policy on the use of force and de-escalation.

The lawsuit also claims that Baton Rouge has a “longstanding pervasive policy of tolerating racist behavior by some of its officers.”