Federal prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against either of the Baton Rouge city policemen involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling during a confrontation outside a convenience store in July, acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson announced on Wednesday.
Amundson said the investigation into the death of Sterling couldn't prove that the officers acted unreasonably and willfully.
Amundson says the officers' encounter with Sterling happened in about 90 seconds. He says the investigation found that an officer shot Sterling three times after saying that Sterling was reaching for a gun in his pocket.
The prosecutor says Officer Blane Salamoni fired three more shots into Sterling's back when he began to sit up and move.
The prosecutor says the officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling's pocket. As part of the investigation, prosecutors asked two independent use-of-force experts to review the case. They criticized the officers' techniques but said they were not excessive.
Amundson described the incident as an "unfortunate reality of police work."
The announcement marks the end of a 10-month federal investigation into the shooting, which prompted several days of protests and demonstrations and garnered national attention.
The results of that probe now move to state Attorney General Jeff Landry's office, which will review the case to see whether officers Blane Salamoni or Howie Lake II may have violated state law during the fatal confrontation with Sterling, 37. Landry can either make that determination himself or assign a district attorney to consider the evidence.
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Though the Justice Department made its official announcement on Wednesday, national news outlets reported Tuesday that neither officer would face federal charges. The leak of the news to the Washington Post, which broke the story, angered members of Sterling's family, who called it an insult, and aggravated many local officials, who said the way it was handled complicated their response plans.
Federal prosecutors will not bring criminal charges against either of the Baton Rouge city p…
On Tuesday evening, as news of the leaked decision spread, people began congregating at the Triple S store where Sterling was shot, joining a previously planned vigil at the location.
Later Tuesday night, a group of about two dozen protesters gathered near Baton Rouge Police Headquarters, briefly blocking several lanes of Airline Highway and prompting a number of police officers to respond. The police detained several people while asking the crowd to clear the roadway and stay off the road.
Last summer, the shooting spurred protests across Baton Rouge in the days following Sterling’s death. Large demonstrations the following weekend along Airline Highway by police headquarters and marches downtown attracted thousands.
UPDATE: Washington Post: Officers involved in Alton Sterling shooting will not be charged
The fatal confrontation between Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, and the two white officers occurred around 12:30 a.m. on July 5. Salamoni and Lake responded to a 911 call from a man claiming he'd been threatened with a gun by someone who matched Sterling's description in the parking lot of the Triple S Food Mart.
Two publicly released videos — one taken by an unidentified woman in a car outside the store, the other by the store's owner, Abdullah Muflahi — captured the officers ordering Sterling to the ground, then tasing him and wrestling him onto his back. One of the officers yelled "Gun!" and ordered Sterling not to move before Salamoni — identified by a source with knowledge of the incident as the shooter — fired.
Salamoni and Lake have remained on paid administrative leave during the investigation into the shooting. Attorneys for both officers Tuesday declined to comment about the news reports their clients would not be charged, saying they were waiting for the official decision.
A separate investigation into the shooting by the Baton Rouge Police Department's Internal Affairs division — charged with determining whether Salamoni or Lake violated BRPD policies during the encounter — is also pending.
Warning: This video contains graphic footage of the shooting. Not seeing the video? Click here.