Mar 27, 2018
Human rights advocates said Tuesday that Louisiana's Justice Department acted in violation of international standards when it decided it would not prosecute two white police officers who fatally shot Alton Sterling, a black man, at close range while he was lying on the ground in Baton Rouge two years ago.
"The decision of the Louisiana Department of Justice is a reflection of the urgent need to review both state and federal laws governing when and how police should use deadly force," said Kristina Roth, senior program officer for Amnesty International USA, in a statement. "Neither Louisiana, nor any other U.S. state, complies with international standards that maintain deadly force can only be used when there is an imminent threat to life or serious injury."
Cell phone videos of Sterling's shooting showed him being held down on the ground by the two officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, outside a grocery store. The police had responded to calls of a man brandishing a gun at the store.
Although Sterling was on the ground, Salamoni fired his weapon at him several times, killing him, after a bystander yelled, "He's got a gun! Gun!" The encounter lasted less than 90 seconds.
The state's decision came 11 months after the federal government decided not to prosecute the officers. Civil rights groups and gun control advocates alike condemned the Justice Department's decision on social media.
\u201c#AltonSterling Not only is this expected, it has been codified into our laws since the founding of this country. Our communities are stuck in a cycle of trauma where we witness endless feeds of murdered Black bodies but see no accountability. We\u2019ve seen this many times before.\u201d— Rashad Robinson (@Rashad Robinson) 1522169410
\u201cAlton Sterling's death was yet another example of police brutality against people of color.\n\nAnd today's news is another example of our country\u2019s systemic failure to hold law enforcement accountable for deadly use of force. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/2Lb4JeMSrp\u201d— ACLU (@ACLU) 1522176801
\u201cGun violence in the US is deeply tied to racial inequities and disproportionately impacts black Americans:\n\nBlack males are 13x more likely to be victims of gun homicide than white males\n\nGun homicide is the leading cause of death for young black males aged 15-24\n\n#AltonSterling https://t.co/f7GZlRHg5O\u201d— Shannon Watts (@Shannon Watts) 1522170893
\u201cThis is gun violence.\n\nWe have to fight for Alton Sterling.\n\nWe have to stop the senseless violence and death.\n\nPressure your public servants \u2014 The universe is on the side of justice. https://t.co/6NHEWum0t2\u201d— Matt Deitsch (@Matt Deitsch) 1522168191
"I want people to know the truth about Alton," Veda Washington, Sterling's aunt, told reporters Tuesday. "He was murdered by two white, racist police officers. He was murdered like an animal...You saw the videos. But they said they didn't see anything wrong."
So disturbing. Tragic. Sad. This woman should never have to go through this. I feel so bad after seeing her level of pain and frustration while the killers and their defenders just sit back.
- Alton Sterling's aunt Veda Washington pic.twitter.com/fVkIHxN7Yp
Louisiana's decision comes days after protests broke out in Sacramento, Calif., where Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, was shot by two police officers while standing in his own backyard.
At the Huffington Post, Lilly Workneh and Taryn Finley added the ruling to a list of 21 examples of police officers walking free in recent years after shooting black victims.
"The list goes on and on of black men, women and children who died as a result of encounters with law enforcement and receive no justice while those responsible for their deaths--the same ones who pledge to 'protect and serve'--face little to no repercussions," they wrote.
We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.
We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.
Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.