No charges will be filed against two white Louisiana police officers over the fatal shooting of a black man in 2016, a state official said Tuesday.
The decision not to prosecute the Baton Rouge officers followed an investigation which determined that they acted in a "reasonable and justifiable manner," Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told reporters at a press conference.
After meeting with family members of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, who was shot multiple times by officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake as they responded to a call about a man with a gun outside a Baton Rouge convenience store, Landry said the investigation had concluded that the officers attempted to make "a lawful arrest" of Sterling based on probable cause.
"The Louisiana Department of Justice cannot proceed with a prosecution of either Officer Lake or Officer Salamoni," Landry noted, blaming Sterling for resisting the officers' efforts to arrest him during the encounter.
Salamoni shot Sterling six times during a struggle on the ground outside the convenience store, where he was selling homemade CDs.
Sterling's family criticized the attorney general for his verdict.
"They are not going to bring charges on anybody. Why would they do that? This is white America," Sterling's aunt, Veda Washington-Abusaleh, told reporters.
Attorneys for Sterling's family also slammed what they said was a "biased decision" and urged the public to hold Landry accountable.
In June last year, the Justice Department also decided not to file charges against the officers. The agency said while Sterling's death was "tragic", it does not meet the "high legal standard" necessary to charge the officers with wrongdoing.
The Justice Department detailed the events leading up to the fatal shots being fired, saying that when the officers initially confronted Sterling, he refused to comply with their orders, eventually resulting in a series of encounters that took Salamoni and Sterling to the ground.
While wrestling with Sterling, Salamoni yelled that the suspect was reaching for a gun -- shooting him three times in the chest before rolling over. Shot, Sterling began to sit up as Lake ordered him to stay on the ground.
The Justice Department said Sterling refused to listen, at which point, Salamoni fired three additional shots.
The entire encounter was recorded by the officers’ body cameras and a store video camera.
The killing triggered widespread outrage and massive protests across the country led by the Black Lives Matter activist group.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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