Louisiana will not charge two white police officers who in 2016 fatally shot Alton Sterling, one of series of black men slain by police that sparked protests across the United States, because evidence showed their actions were justified, a state official said on Tuesday.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, said Baton Rouge officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake had good reason to believe Sterling, 37, was armed with a gun and was resisting arrest.
“Our investigation has concluded that officers Lake and Salamoni attempted to make a lawful arrest of Alton Sterling based upon probable cause,” Landry told a news conference.
Civil rights activists contend the officers escalated tensions during the arrest in a convenience store parking lot, turning it into a deadly encounter.
“He was murdered by two white racist police officers. He was murdered like an animal,” Sterling’s aunt, Veda Washington-Abusaleh, told reporters in video posted on social media by local media.
Landry told reporters the two Baton Rouge officers gave verbal instructions and tried non-lethal methods to subdue Sterling, who did not comply.
Sterling was shot outside the store on July 5, 2016, after a resident reported he had been threatened by a black man selling CDs. Police said Sterling was trying to pull a loaded gun out of his pocket when Salamoni opened fire.