Date: July 5, 2016
Officer: Blaine Salamoni (shooter) and Howie Lake II
Charged: No, Salmoni fired from force, Lake suspended without pay for three days
Alton Sterling was selling homemade CD’s outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 5, 2016, when an anonymous caller called 911 and said that there was a man selling CD’s and waved a handgun while threatening them. Officers Blane Salamoni and his partner, Howie Lake II, arrived at the scene, and the convenience store owner said that the scene immediately became aggressive. The officers told Sterling to put his hands on the car and he asked, “What I did?” Salamoni drew his gun and said, “Don’t fucking move or I’ll shoot your fucking ass, bitch.” The officers told Sterling to put his hands on the car again and Salamoni threatened Sterling, saying, “Don’t you fucking move or I’m going to shoot you in your fucking head,” while he put his gun to Sterling’s head. Lake pulled out his taser when Sterling complained that the officers were hurting his arm. Salamoni then tackled Sterling to the ground and pinned his head down while he was on his back. Cellphone footage from inside a nearby parked car shows Salamoni on top of Sterling and quickly pulling out his gun. Bodycam footage shows one of the officers, presumably Salamoni, yelling, “he’s got a gun!” followed by gunshots. Salamoni shot Sterling six times from point blank range. Cellphone footage from outside the entrance to the convenience store shows Sterling lying on the ground with a pool of blood from his chest soaking his shirt after the 90 second interaction. Autopsy deemed the cause of death as a homicide caused by gunshot wounds to his heart, lung, esophagus, and liver. He was 37 years old.
The officers claim that Sterling was reaching for his gun, but he was immobile when the officers were on top of him, therefore unable to reach for his gun. Police recovered a .38 caliber gun from Sterling’s front pocket, but the convenience store owner, who was also an eyewitness, said, “Sterling never wielded the gun or threatened the officers.” The officers were placed on administrative leave after the incident.
The Department of Justice opened a federal investigation starting July 7, 2016, which concluded May 2, 2017. They decided against pressing civil rights charges against the officers due to insufficient evidence. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry then conducted an investigation which concluded at the end of March 2018, and announced that no charges would be brought against the officers, justifying their actions as “well-rounded and reasonable.” The Baton Rouge Police Chief fired Salamoni after the conclusion of the investigation due to the violation of the department’s policies on use of force and “command of temper.” He also suspended Lake for three days without pay for losing his temper during the incident.
Berman, M., & Lowery, W. (2018, March 27). Baton Rouge police officers won't be charged in fatal shooting of Alton Sterling. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/03/27/baton-rouge-police-officers-wont-be-charged-in-fatal-shooting-of-alton-sterling/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.810c605ef512
Berman, M., & Lowery, W. (2018, March 30). Baton Rouge police release video showing fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, plan to fire one officer. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/03/30/baton-rouge-police-will-fire-officer-who-shot-and-killed-alton-sterling/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1f4454807b86
Dwyer, C. (2018, March 27). Baton Rouge Officers Will Not Be Charged In Alton Sterling's Killing. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/27/597301377/baton-rouge-officers-will-not-be-charged-in-alton-sterlings-killing
Izaguirre, A., Kunzelman, M., & Associated Press. (2018, March 31). New videos show clearest account of Alton Sterling's killing. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/new-videos-show-clearest-account-of-alton-sterlings-killing
Lopez, G. (2018, March 31). Alton Sterling police shooting: No charges filed against Baton Rouge officers. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2016/7/6/12105380/alton-sterling-police-shooting-baton-rouge-louisiana
Valencia, N. (2018, March 31). Baton Rouge officer who shot Alton Sterling fired; videos released. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/30/us/alton-sterling-investigation-police-hearing/index.html