Louisiana’s attorney general ruled out criminal charges Tuesday against two white Baton Rouge police officers in the shooting of Alton Sterling, whose death led to widespread protests nearly two years ago.
Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision came nearly 11 months after the Justice Department ruled out federal criminal charges in Sterling’s July 2016 death. Officer Blane Salamoni shot and killed Sterling during a struggle outside a convenience store where the 37-year-old Black man was selling homemade CDs. Officer Howie Lake II helped wrestle Sterling to the ground, but Lake didn’t fire his gun.
Two cellphone videos of the shooting quickly spread on social media, prompting large protests. Landry made the announcement of no charges against the officers at a news conference after meeting with family members of Sterling. Relatives and their lawyers angrily denounced the decision.
Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of one of Sterling’s children, Cameron, said the officers killed Sterling “in cold blood.”
“They took a human away. They took a father away. They took somebody away that did not deserve to be away,” she said.
Landry said his office reviewed all of the evidence compiled by the Justice Department and also conducted its own interviews of witnesses.
“I know the Sterling family is hurting,” Landry told reporters. “I know that they may not agree with the decision.”
Toxicology and urine test results released Tuesday showed Sterling had cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and other drugs in his system at the time of the confrontation. Landry said it was “reasonable” to conclude Sterling was under the influence of drugs during the struggle with the officers “and that contributed to his non-compliance” with their commands. Landry did not take any questions from reporters.