Family of Alton Sterling, some lawmakers express disappointment in AG's decision to not file charges
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The family of Alton Sterling held a news conference following Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry's announcement that charges would not be filed against either officer involved in the deadly shooting.
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"A lot of us were not surprised," said Chris Stewart, an attorney representing the Sterling family. "It takes courage and we did not see that in this case."
Family members were seen embracing moments after the announcement. Some were crying.
Stewart called this a political decision and said it's time to hold Landry accountable.
"The only thing people care about is power. This was a political decision," he said. "So in order to respond, we will hold you politically responsible. From city council, mayor, police chief, attorney general, whoever you may be if you're not standing up for justice."
Attorney Michael Adams said a civil lawsuit has been filed.
"These men thought they could be a bully and thought they could take this man's life, but this is not over," Adams said. "We will prove in a court of law that the actions of these officers were outrageous. They were not necessary. They exceeded all bounds of decency."
The woman who raised Alton Sterling, his aunt, who had a stroke since this all began, said Landry should be ashamed of this decision.
"I'm not crying anymore," Sandra Sterling said. "I will get justice from a higher power."
She added officers took an oath "to serve and protect not to serve and kill."
Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Alton Sterling's son, Cameron, said they will get justice.
"Yes, we did not get justice here today, but we will get justice," McMillon explained. "We don't hate anyone, but we just want justice."
Louisiana lawmakers also commented on the decision of Landry not to file charges against the officers.
Senator Regina Barrow said she's extremely disappointed with the decision, but not surprised.
"I'm upset that he took this long to do what I believe was already the determination months ago," she told WAFB. "My thoughts and prayers are with the family."
State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, who stood with the family, said this is unfair.
"Words cannot describe how disappointed I am in Jeff Landry for not doing his job," she said. "We deserve better and we should demand better."
Marcelle's thoughts were echoed by other lawmakers.
"Basically, what I expected he was going to say," added state Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge. "Extremely disappointed he waited all this time to say it. Hoping BRPD chief will take some action."
"I'm disgusted, man," state Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, told Kevin Frey. "It's like the US attorney and Jeff Landry reviewed two totally different cases. I looking forward to Jeff Landry releasing the video. Why conceal the truth? Let us see and decide who to believe. I keep hearing the US attorney talk about recklessness and negligence."
The ACLU of Louisiana said in a statement after the announcement that Sterling's death is "yet another example of police brutality against people of color," noting Sterling became the 122nd black person to be killed by law enforcement in 2016.
The full statement reads:
Alton Sterling was shot to death by two Baton Rouge police officers who were on top of him as he lay on the ground. He became the 122nd Black person to be killed by U.S. law enforcement in 2016. His death is yet another example of police brutality against people of color and our country's systemic failure to hold law enforcement accountable for that brutality. Justice will not be served until we end this epidemic of police violence against people of color once and for all. Moving forward, we will continue to stand in solidarity with Mr. Sterling's family and the communities most scarred by police violence. We join those urging Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul to fire the two officers involved, release all body camera and surveillance footage of the incident, and do everything in his power to end unjustified killings of civilians. Further, law enforcement agencies must respect the First Amendment rights of peaceful protesters and abide by the terms of the MOU they signed in 2016.
Officials with The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge issued the following statement on the decision:
One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge stands with our community as we encourage sincere dialogue and other responsible forms of civic engagement to improve the relationship between law enforcement and residents of our community. One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge stands against all violence.
We extend our prayers and support to the family of Alton Sterling. We understand that many in our community are displeased that the Attorney General has decided not to prosecute the Baton Rouge City police officers responsible for the death of Mr. Alton Sterling.
We respect the work and commitment of the many outstanding law enforcement officers in our community, but we petition that all people be treated fairly and with dignity by law enforcement officers. We will stand against any government official, community leader or citizen who intends to slow the progress of our community or who otherwise makes racist, divisive, or other demeaning rhetoric against the people of our community.
The One Hundred Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge will continue to enhance the lives of our African-American youth through our four pillars of mentorship, education, health and wellness, and economic development, giving substance to our vision of a better community.
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