Family angry at reports of DOJ decision in police shooting death of Alton Sterling

The family of Alton Sterling was angry after media reports surfaced indicating a decision had been made on whether to prosecute two Louisiana police officers in his death.

Sterling was outside a Baton Rouge convenience store on July 5 when officers responded to a report of a man with a gun outside the store. A bystander's video shows the police pinning Sterling, a black man, to the ground before shooting him -- leading to widespread criticism and renewed "Black Lives Matter" protests.

The Washington Post and The New York Times first reported Tuesday that multiple sources told them the US Justice Department, which led the investigation into the shooting, will close its investigation and not seek charges against the officers.

Family members said they had been told they would get news of the decision before it was publicized. CNN has not independently confirmed the media reports, which cited unnamed sources.

The Justice Department's official statement Tuesday was there was no decision. Sterling family members, their attorneys, Louisiana's governor and Baton Rouge's mayor said they had received no word.

One of Sterling's aunts said she, too, had not heard from federal authorities. But she was upset by the reports that said the officers would not be charged.

"It's not right. Lord have Mercy. Oh my God," Sandra Sterling told CNN.

Two attorneys for the Sterling family also told CNN on Tuesday evening they have not heard from the Justice Department on a decision in the case in which two white police officers were involved in the shooting while trying to detain Sterling.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN the department has not communicated a decision to anyone. When there is a decision, the family will be notified first, and then the department will hold a news conference, she said.

The shootings set off protests across Baton Rouge and beyond and became an important chapter in the national discussion of how police interact with minorities. The officers -- Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II -- were placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.

The mayor was upset by the reports, the first of which appeared in the Post.

"I am appalled that this news, whether true or false, has been disseminated without a formal decision being relayed to the Sterling family first. Also, no one in my office or the governor's office has been notified by the US attorney's office of a decision or timeline," Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said.

A spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards said he also was unaware of any decision.

"The governor's office has not been notified of a timeline or decision regarding the Alton Sterling investigation," Richard Carbo said.

It is unclear whether the state will pursue charges. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry tweeted he will comment after an official Department of Justice announcement.

People gathered Tuesday outside the Triple S Food Mart, where Sterling was fatally shot, for a planned vigil.
Another of Alton Sterling's aunts expressed her disappointment to the crowd.

"We need closure. We need a conviction; we need justice," Vera Sterling said.

The videos
The killing gripped the nation because two bystander videos, each less than a minute long, captured the struggle with officers.

The first bystander video, filmed from inside a car, shows Sterling and Salamoni and Lake, who were answering a 911 report of a man with a gun, standing near a vehicle outside the convenience store.

The camera pans downward and a pop is heard. Someone yells, "Get on the ground!" Another pop, possibly from a Taser, rings out. The convenience store owner said officers twice deployed the devices before the shooting.
An officer rushes Sterling and pulls him to the ground. The other officer assists in restraining Sterling. Someone shouts, "He's got a gun!"

An officer draws something from his waistband and points it at Sterling. More yelling ensues, followed by two loud bangs, then three more bangs.

The second video shows Sterling on the ground as one officer straddles him and another kneels to his left.
After the gunshots, the camera captures Sterling with a large bloodstain on his chest as an officer lying on the pavement aims his weapon.

As Sterling moves his left arm toward his face and then his chest, the other officer appears to remove something from Sterling's right pocket. Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said Sterling was armed at the time, and a witness said the officer removed a gun from Sterling's pocket.

A police incident report does not specify who shot Sterling.

The 'CD Man'
Sterling was known as the "CD man," a laid-back guy who sold CDs and DVDs in front of the convenience store on the west side of the city.

The father of five was respected in the community, said Edmond Jordan, the family attorney.

"Alton was out there selling CDs, trying to make a living," Jordan said. "He was doing it with the permission of the store owner, so he wasn't trespassing or anything like that. He wasn't involved in any criminal conduct."

Castile shooting
A day after Sterling's death, police shot and killed Philando Castile, 32, in a Minnesota traffic stop streamed on Facebook Live. The Castile shooting upped the intensity of protests around the nation as well as the debates over police violence. An officer was charged with manslaughter in Castile's death.

On July 7, in Dallas, a gunman ambushed officers, killing five and wounding seven others in the deadliest single incident for US law enforcement since September 11, 2001.

Black Lives Matter cases: What happened after the protests?

Baton Rouge, a city of 238,000 residents, re-entered the spotlight July 17 when an ex-Marine from Missouri ambushed and killed three law enforcement officers.

Col. Michael D. Edmonson of Louisiana State Police said at the time the killings were "chilling in the sheer brutality."

A makeshift memorial to Alton Sterling. Reuters

Alton Sterling shooting: 'No charges' for police over black man's killing

The US Department of Justice has reportedly decided not to charge two white officers who shot and killed a black man in Louisiana last summer.

Video footage appearing to show the officers holding down Alton Sterling as they fired their weapons sparked days of protests in Baton Rouge.

News of the decision leaked to US media on Tuesday before the city mayor or the Sterling family had been told.
"We need closure, we need a conviction. We need justice," said Sterling's aunt.

More than 100 people attended a vigil on Tuesday night outside the Triple S Food Mart where Sterling died on 5 July 2016.

The civil rights investigation was opened soon after the 37-year-old was killed outside the grocery shop where he was selling CDs.

At the time, a series of fatal police shootings involving African-Americans had sparked a debate about police use of force.

The federal decision not to prosecute the two officers comes with a new White House administration and a new head of the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

But it is possible that the state of Louisiana could bring its own charges.

Local officials expressed outrage that the federal authorities had not contacted the family ahead of the reported decision.

"I am appalled that this news, whether true or false, has been disseminated without a formal decision being relayed to the Sterling family first," Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said, adding that her office had not been notified either.

What happened when Sterling died?
Police were called after reports of a man threatening people with a gun outside a shop.

Mobile video footage appeared to show two officers wrestling a man in a red shirt to the floor.

One of the officers pinned the man's arm to the floor with his knee and then appeared to pull out his gun and point it at the man.

A voice is heard shouting: "He's got a gun!" Shots ring out and the camera moves away.

Mr Sterling, a father of five, died at the scene.

Police said he refused to comply with the officers' commands so they used a stun gun to bring him to the ground.
The officers say they saw a gun in one of his pockets and saw his arm move there as if he was reaching for it, just before he was shot.

Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were placed on administrative leave after the incident.

A turbulent time
There were nearly 200 arrests during protests over Mr Sterling's death, which preceded a turbulent couple of weeks in US race relations.

A day after the fatal confrontation, a black driver in Minnesota was shot dead in a traffic stop, and the same week five police officers in Dallas were killed.

Less than two weeks later, three police officers in Baton Rouge were killed in an ambush, further inflaming tensions in that community.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who called the video footage "disturbing", called for a federal investigation into Sterling's death.

Two other fatal police shootings were in the news on Tuesday.

In Texas, police changed their story in what happened when an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed on Saturday night as his car drove away from police.

And a former officer in South Carolina pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of an African American he shot in the back as he ran away.

Meanwhile, two Chicago police officers were shot and wounded late on Tuesday in a drive-by attack, authorities said.

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