The Justice Department will not pursue charges against the two Louisiana police officers who fatally shot Alton Sterling last year, according to multiple reports.
The department was mulling whether to charge two officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, with violating Sterling’s civil rights. The decision will likely be announced on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post, citing four unidentified sources familiar with the matter.
Sterling, 37, was killed during a confrontation with Baton Rouge police in July. According to police statements, Sterling fit the description of a man who was reportedly threatening someone with a gun. Sterling was selling CDs outside of a convenience store when police arrived on the scene.
Video of the incident shows police pinning Sterling to the ground. One of the officers can be heard saying “He’s got a gun,” and shots are fired off camera. The officers maintained that Sterling was reaching for a gun in his front pants pocket. It is unclear from the footage whether Sterling threatened the officers.
The incident occurred one day before police in Minnesota fatally shot Philando Castile. The two deaths of black men at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests and reignited the debate on the use of deadly force in law enforcement.
Authorities in Baton Rouge are preparing for the possibility of protests in reaction to the Justice Department’s decision, according to The Post.
The investigation into Sterling’s death was launched in July by federal attorney Walt Green, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. This week’s decision marks the first high-profile case under Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department declines to bring charges against law enforcement officers, according to The Post and The New York Times.
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