According to the Washington Post, a civil rights probe launched by Barack Obama’s Department of Justice into the shooting death of armed convicted felon Alton Sterling as he fought two officers for control of his illegally possessed handgun will not result in charges for the officers.
The Justice Department has decided not to bring charges against the officers involved in the death of Alton Sterling, whose videotaped shooting by police in Baton Rouge last summer prompted unrest across the city, and is planning to reveal in the next 24 hours that it has closed the probe, according to four people familiar with the matter.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Sterling family had yet to be informed by the Justice Department of the decision, and it is unclear how and when the department will announce its findings.
“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 case will be the first time under Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department has publicly declined to prosecute officers investigated for possible wrongdoing in a high-profile case, and officials in Baton Rouge have been girding for possible reaction there.
Officers were called to the scene by a homeless man who Sterling threatened with an illegally-acquired handgun. A violent convicted felon, domestic abuser, and registered sex offender with a history of gun crimes, Sterling was shot while fighting two officers attempting to take him into custody.
The officers tried to take him in peacefully.
When Sterling refused to listen to lawful commands, officers tried to tase him, and the taser failed to work.
They then went hands on and tried to physically force Sterling into complying. After being tackled to the ground and rolling partially under the front bumper of the car so that officers could not grab his right arm, Sterling used that arm to reach for the gun in his right pocket.
Officers yelled “gun” and warned Sterling to stop trying to pull the weapon out of his right front pants pocket.
When Sterling continued to try to draw the weapon, the officers fired, killing him.
The shooting was captured on two cell phone cameras.
The first showed the taser failing and the takedown of Sterling.
The second, filmed in much better quality and at better angle by the store owner, graphically shows Sterling after being shot, and shows the officers pull the gun Sterling was reaching for out of his right front pants pocket.
The federal civil rights probe is complete, and likely presages a formal announcement that the officers were legally justified in shooting the armed felon.