Two use of force experts hired by the U.S. Justice Department criticized the actions taken by Baton Rouge police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake in the 2016 fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, even though both experts concluded the shooting had been reasonable under the circumstances.
Those findings were incorporated in an investigative report released Tuesday by Attorney General Jeff Landry, who announced that neither Salamoni nor Lake will face criminal charges in Sterling's death.
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Landry's office did not release any video or audio recording of Sterling's death, but his office published a 34-page report that offered new details about both the state and federal investigations of Sterling's death.
While the officers will not be charged in Sterling's death, their actions could amount to policy violations. Police Chief Murphy Paul said Tuesday that the Police Department will hold a disciplinary hearing this week that will not be open to the public.
Landry's report incorporated the opinions of two use of force experts, Kenneth Sanders and Charles Key, who both determined the fatal shooting had been justified given Sterling's movements, possession of a firearm and refusal to follow verbal commands outside the Triple S convenience store on North Foster Drive. The officers removed a loaded .38-caliber handgun from Sterling's right pocket following the shooting.
But the experts were troubled by some of the tactics the officers used in confronting Sterling, including the profanity Salamoni used throughout the deadly encounter.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry on Tuesday declined any criminal charges against the two white Baton Rouge police officers involved in …
Sanders found that Salamoni "pointing his service weapon at Sterling's head and using profane language was a policy issue," adding the officer "should have been disciplined but it was not a 4th or 8th Amendment issue."
Key, meanwhile, said the officers "created tactical problems which may have escalated the situation as opposed to deescalating the situation."
"Tactically, the language the officers used may have exacerbated the situation more than if they had drawn their firearms and had given Sterling commands for a position of cover," Landry's report says.
More than 20 months Alton Sterling was shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced the two officers invol…
Landry's report also included witness statements and a section titled "Sterling's history with law enforcement," which details a May 2009 incident that Landry said "mirrors" his fatal shooting "in all but the outcome."
In that incident, a police officer responded to a complaint that Sterling had pointed a handgun at two people in a vehicle earlier in the evening. The officer, Timothy Daigre, then went to the Scotlandville Grocery Store on Rosenwald Street, where Sterling had been selling "contraband CDs," the report says.
The officer asked Sterling if he had any weapons and began to frisk him. The report says Sterling disregarded the officer's instructions, "spun around" and tried to flee from Daigre, who grabbed Sterling by the shirt and pushed him to the ground. A black 9 mm handgun fell from Stering's waistband during the struggle.
Sterling eventually was taken into custody and booked on aggravated assault and drug and weapons counts. Like the 2016 incident in which Sterling was fatally shot, the report says, the 2009 arrest "reflects Sterling's failure to submit to a lawful arrest while he was armed with a dangerous weapon."
The East Baton Rouge Parish coroner on Tuesday also released Sterling's final autopsy report, which showed Stering, at the time of his death, had traces of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine in his system, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.029.
Landry, in his press conference, said he believe those illicit substances had contributed to Sterling's "non-compliance" with Lake and Salamoni.
"Considering the expert opinion of two independent use of force experts, an exhaustive investigation of thousands of pages of material and the law and the jurisprudence of the State of Louisiana, we have concluded that the officers in question acted as reasonable officers under existing law and were justified in their use of force," Landry's report said.
The attorney general added that it would "a violation of our mandate to uphold the law and Constitution" if prosecutors had brought the matter to a grand jury.