Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

1 officer fired, 1 suspended in Louisiana death

Alton Sterling 37 was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday Alton Sterling 37 was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge on Tuesday
Patty Aguilar | 31 March, 2018, 02:54

Baton Rouge, Louisiana officers in the videotaped 2016 killing of a black man named Alton Sterling have been spared any charges.

Mr. Sterling resisted officers' commands to place his hands on a auto; at one point, as the police and suspect struggled, Officer Salamoni drew his handgun and told Mr. Officer Howie Lake was given the suspension.

While neither officer will face criminal charges, both will suffer professionally.

In explaining his decision on Tuesday, Landry said the officers were attempting a lawful arrest "under probable cause", assuming that Sterling was armed while resisting their attempts to arrest him.

Lawyers for the two officers are nearly certain in the appeals process to seize on the mayor's statements calling for the discipline of the officers, and argue that the punishments were a foregone conclusion, said Henry D.H. Olinde, a Baton Rouge lawyer with significant experience with civil service cases.

Landry explains that the command proved to be temporarily effective for the officers and as they tried to get Sterling into the police vehicle, he started resisting arrest again. Lake's lawyer, Kyle Kershaw, said his client's actions complied with department procedures.

When Sterling complains that the officers are hurting him, one of the officers says to use a Taser on him and an electric buzzing can be heard.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announced officer Blane Salamoni's firing Friday, less than a week after Louisiana's attorney general ruled out criminal charges in Alton Sterling's July 2016 shooting death.

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The killing gripped the nation in part because two videos taken by bystanders, each less than a minute long, were released publicly shortly after the shooting and captured the final part of Sterling's struggle with the two white officers.

Salamoni had served as a Baton Rouge police officer for four years before the shooting; Lake was a three-year veteran of the force.

The report from Landry's office repeatedly describes movements that appear to have been viewed on video recordings. Attorneys for Sterling's family had said a year ago that they were told by federal investigators that Salamoni had told Sterling, "I'm going to kill you" when he first drew his gun, a detail apparently drawn from the then-unreleased recording of the encounter.

Paul said Tuesday that he and three deputy chiefs would preside over a disciplinary hearing - closed to the public - before he imposes any punishment. At that time, the announcement said, Salamoni yelled that Sterling was "going for the gun!" and began to fire at him. The officer believed to be Salamoni then runs at Sterling, tackling him as the camera footage blurs with motion.

As Sterling struggled on the ground, they fired another three in to his back.

"These are the facts", Landry said.

The other officer, Howie Lake II, did not fire any shots.

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

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