- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Justice Department will officially announce on Wednesday the results of its civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers.

The DOJ plans to announce its decision in the case Wednesday at 1 p.m. CST. The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post and The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, reported that the DOJ will not bring charges against the two police officers investigated as a result of the July 2016 shooting.

The 37-year-old Sterling was shot by an officer outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge where he was selling CDs. Cellphone video of the incident shows two police officers struggling with Sterling on the ground. One of the officers pins Sterling’s arm to the ground and appears to pull a gun from his holster. A voice can be heard shouting “He’s got a gun, gun.” Then shots ring out.

Reports that officers in the Sterling case — Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II — would not face federal charges left the man’s family distraught.

“It hurts so bad,” Sterling’s aunt, Sandra Sterling told WBRZ-TV on Tuesday after word of the decision leaked. “I was trying to prepare myself. … It’s a horrible pain. It’s like going back to the first day all over again.”

The officers had responded to the Triple S Food Mart where Sterling was shot for a report of a man who was threatening people with a gun.

The day after the shooting, the Obama administration’s Justice Department announced it had opened a civil rights investigation into Sterling’s death. The shooting, coupled with other deaths of black men at the hands of police officers that summer, touched off a series of widespread protests in Baton Rouge and elsewhere that ignited tensions between police and the public.

Violence marred a protest against police brutality held in Dallas, Texas, just two days after the Baton Rouge shooting when a 25-year-old Army veteran opened fire on police officers monitoring what had otherwise been a peaceful gathering. Five police officers were killed and nine officers and two civilians were injured in the attack before the gunman was killed.

Two weeks later, three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge were killed when a gunman carried out an ambush-style attack.

Activist groups said the DOJ’s reported decision not to pursue charges against the officers involved in Sterling’s death sends a signal that the Trump administration does not take concerns about police brutality seriously.

“There is no way to misinterpret the message that Jeff Sessions sent today: Black lives do not matter,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of the organization Color of Change. “There is no other way to read this decision from the Department of Justice, which issued no charges to the police officers who tased Alton Sterling, held him down on the ground, and shot him in the chest and back. A Black man who was selling CD’s was summarily executed, and the Attorney General sees nothing wrong with that.”

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