As expected, the #Department of Justice (DOJ) under Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Donald Trump presidency, decided to not bring charges against two #Baton Rouge police officers over last year's death of #Alton Sterling, and, they've also decided to close the probe on the killing, stating a lack of evidence.

In July 2016, Alton Sterling, (37, African-American), was shot and killed while being held down by two white police officers (Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II), with one of them crying out that Sterling had a gun before they shot him several times. There's no doubt as to whether Sterling had a gun or not as it was reported that he started to carry one a few days before he was killed.

Advertisements
Advertisements

The officers say that Sterling had a loaded gun in his pocket. Its also been stated that other individuals who were selling CDs in the area, as Alton was, and had been robbed at gun point. Officers said that they had been called over reports that Sterling was threatening someone else with a gun.

DOJ under Jeff Sessions

One article by the Washington Post titled: "Justice Department will not charge Baton Rouge officers in fatal shooting of Alton Sterling," said that this was the first time that the department (and under Sessions) had publicly declined to prosecute officers. It's also not surprising given that Sessions has already said that they would not diminish the effectiveness of the police and that they were reviewing Obama era cases against police departments which the DOJ initially wanted to reform.

Advertisements

Under President Obama, the DOJ's focus on police abuse, excessive force, civil rights abuses and the killing of black suspects increased under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. But Jeff Sessions' history of racist statements -- which is in league with Trump's racist rhetoric -- is every indication that the DOJ under his presidency and Sessions' appointment would pull back from their initial pursuit for oversight on police departments. Blasting News reported on an example of this where the department decided to slow down their investigation on the Baltimore Police Department.

As a Republican, Jeff Sessions has made it very clear that they oppose criticism against any police department. During former President Obama's last term, Republicans made it a point to criminalize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group, a group that grew out of protests against the shooting deaths of black citizens, many who were unarmed.

Advertisements

But since Sessions has become the U.S. Attorney General, he has made two things quite clear:

  • He would not condone criticism against police departments
  • As a federal organization, they would remove themselves from investigating law enforcement and allow the states to do that instead.

Alton Sterling investigation remains 'open'

Michael Adams (who is an attorney for the Sterling family) said that at the very least, both officers should be disciplined and fired. At the time of this writing, both officers are on paid leave. Thus far, because the DOJ has said that there is no proof that the officers did anything wrong, they would not be charged with civil rights abuses. The acting Attorney General said in his statement that the officers did no violate any of Sterling's civil rights.

Since the DOJ is not pursuing federal charges, its been said that the Attorney General for the state of Louisiana, Jeff Landry, would pick up the case. However, it's already believed that the state would likely not bring charges either. In a statement, Landry said that they would request that the DOJ send them all materials collected from their investigation and that as far as he was concerned, the case was to remain open. He stated that had the Department of Justice not been involved, the investigation would have been conducted by the Louisiana State Police anyway, which he said would be conducting the investigation now.