Federal investigators decline charges against officers in Sterling case

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials announced that federal investigators have declined to charge two Baton Rouge police officers with civil rights violations in relation to the shooting death of Alton Sterling.

U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Corey Amundsen addressed the media on Wednesday at 1 p.m. about the decision. It was held at the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge.

The full report from the Department of Justice can be read below:

Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge police officer on July 5, 2016 after Officer Blane Salamoni and Officer Howie Lake II were called to a convenience store to investigate a report of a man threatening another man with a gun. One of several videos of the shooting appears to show one officer remove a gun from Sterling's pocket immediately after the shooting.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) determined that there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers violated Sterling's civil rights. They announced what is called a "declination of charges," meaning they are declining to pursue charges.

In considering whether to prosecute someone with a civil rights violation, all four of the following criteria must be met beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Was the person acting as a government official (such as a police officer)?
  2. Did the person act unreasonably (did they commit the act with no good reason)?
  3. Did they act willfully to violate the person’s civil rights (meaning the person knew what they were doing was wrong and was a violation of civil rights)?
  4. Was there any injury of some sort?

The Sterling case will next go to the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. That agency will be asked to determine whether the officers involved should face any state criminal charges. One example of a possible state criminal charge is manslaughter.

State prosecutors say their investigation has not yet started because they will not receive evidence in the case from the feds until the federal probe is over.

RELATED STORIES: The Federal Decision

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