Baton Rouge Officers Duck Federal Charges in Fatal Shooting

BATON ROUGE (CN) – The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers involved in last summer’s deadly shooting of a black man whose death, caught on videotape, sent a wave of anger and grief across the world, won’t face charges from the Justice Department, according to a report Tuesday by the Washington Post.

The officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling could still be prosecuted if Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a conservative Republican, decides to bring charges. Whether he will is still unknown, and Landry’s office did not immediately reply to an emailed request for information.

Four people familiar with the Justice Department’s investigation told the Washington Post Tuesday afternoon that the department will disclose in the next 24 hours that the probe is closed.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Post said, the Sterling family had not yet been informed of the Justice Department’s decision.

An attorney representing Sterling’s family did not reply to a call and text message for information.

This would be the first instance under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department will publicly decline to prosecute someone for wrongdoing in a high-profile case. The newspaper further said that officials in Baton Rouge were ramping up services Tuesday afternoon in preparation for any possible public reaction.

Massive protests swept across Baton Rouge last summer following Sterling’s death. Two separate video clips of the event showed Sterling, 37, unarmed and pinned to the ground by two police officers before being fatally shot early in the morning July 5, 2016.

Sterling had been in a grocery store parking lot selling bootlegged CDs when officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake responded to a call that he had threatened someone with a gun. The search warrant affidavit said Sterling fit the description of the man with the gun.

A day after Sterling’s death, Minnesota cafeteria worker Philando Castile was shot to death by police officers while his girlfriend, who was in the car at the time, posted the incident live on Facebook. Later that week, a black man who said he was motivated by outrage over white police officers killing black men gunned down five police officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter rally. Just over a week later, another black man who said he was fed up with police violence against black people shot and killed three police officers in Baton Rouge.

A representative from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office did not immediately reply to an email sent Tuesday for details on whether preparations have been made for possible protests.

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