The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that federal charges would not be brought against the two police officers involved in the death of Alton Sterling, the African-American man killed last July in Baton Rouge, Lousiana. Sterling's death sparked protests against police brutality around the country after a video showed the 37-year-old father being shot multiple times by the white police officers.
The DOJ lawyers claimed there was not enough evidence to convict the two officers on a federal charge, 10 months after Sterling's death.
This wasn't the answer that Sterling's family had been hoping for. Chris Stewart, the attorney who represents two of Sterling's children said that the actions of one of the officers involved, Blaine Salamoni, were "outrageous" and "unexplainable." Prior to the DOJ decision, video surfaced of officer Salamoni pointing a gun to Sterling's head and saying, "I'm going to kill you, bitch."
Stewart said that the DOJ officials who watched the video heard "horrific language from Salamoni," yet suggested the attack was not racially motivated. The other officer involved, Officer Howie Lake III, was seen at times attempting to de-escalate the situation, according to Stewart.
Despite the decision not to bring federal charges against the officers, the Louisiana Attorney General still has the right to bring about criminal charges at a state level.
Sterling's family is urging Attorney General Jeff Landry to do so.
"It's no longer a civil matter, it's a human matter," Sandra Sterling, Alton's aunt said at a press conference on Wednesday. "Alton was human, he's no longer here but his voice will be heard, though us."
I want to tell y'all some of the hurt I had yesterday. I was at work and when I got back to my car and I seen my phone blowing up. I couldn't believe what I heard on the phone. I'm on the interstate and I lost it, I panicked. So yesterday, to me was the first day that it happened. I went back to July 5 at 1:30 in the morning. I suffered all day yesterday. I suffered. What I heard today... the suffering still continues. So now that I know there is not a civil matter anymore, now it's a human matter