The Department of Justice will decline to charge two white police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year, four sources close to the situation told The Washington Post.
Alton Sterling, 37, was killed last July when officers Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni pinned him down and shot him during an arrest. Sterling’s death, which was caught on tape, sparked protests throughout the city.
Authorities claimed they approached Sterling, who was selling CDs outside a convenience store, because he matched the description of a person who threatened someone with a gun. They also alleged that the 37-year-old was armed and was reaching for the weapon during the struggle, CBS News reported.
An autopsy report indicated that Sterling died of multiple gunshot wounds in the chest and back. A judge sealed the report in August.
Though the Justice Department’s civil rights division, the FBI, and the United States attorney’s office in Baton Rouge opened an inquiry last July, sources told The Post on Tuesday that the Justice Department will announce in the 24 hours that they closed the probe. President Barack Obama said at the time that he is confident in the agency’s investigation.
“We have seen tragedies like this too many times,” President Obama said.
Despite this development, Sterling’s family has yet to be informed of the Justice Department’s decision:
“We have not heard nor received an update and are unaware of any charges that may or may not be filed,” said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the Sterling family’s attorneys. “We have not received word, nor has the family been given any notice of upcoming updates regarding this case.”
The New York Times pointed out that this is the first high-profile case where the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided not to charge law enforcement.
“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 in a statement.
“As I’ve said before, when I know something, the people of Baton Rouge will know — and we will get through it together.”
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