Baton Rouge, LA -- After the state of Louisiana announced that they would not be charging the officers responsible for ending the life of a man who had caused harm to no one, body camera footage was released showing the travesty that was the seeming premeditated murder of Alton Sterling.
It took only 90 seconds for Baton Rouge police officer Blane Salamoni to threaten to kill and then kill Sterling that fateful night. However, it took nearly two years for the body camera footage to be released and for Salamoni to be fired.
What was particularly troublesome about the release of the video is the fact that Salamoni wasn't fired until it was released -- two years later.
Now, after years of jumping through political hoops, Sterling's children are finally seeing some sort of justice in the form of a taxpayer funded payout. The attorneys representing Sterling's estate, released the following statement on news of the settlement.
“On behalf of the family of Alton Sterling, we are pleased to announce that we have reached a $4.5 million settlement with the city of Baton Rouge and dismissed our lawsuit against the city and others.
This settlement, which was reached through hard work and collaboration between attorneys for Mr. Sterling’s family and the Baton Rouge City Council, will allow the city to heal and provide a pathway for Mr. Sterling’s children to be provided for financially. Additionally, we are grateful for the significant policy changes that have been and will be implemented by the city of Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Police Department following Mr. Sterling’s death.
Our hope is that these policy changes, which focus on de-escalation, providing verbal warnings prior to using deadly force and prohibiting officers from both using chokeholds and firing into moving vehicles, will ensure that no other family has to endure the trauma and heartbreak that Mr. Sterling’s family went through and will create a better future going forward for Baton Rouge residents.”
A statement from Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the settlement "marks a milestone in this traumatic chapter of our community's history." Traumatic indeed.
Sterling's death prompted violent clashes with police as well as a mass shooting. The "investigation" was also tainted from the start as police and investigators had video evidence the same night Sterling was killed yet they did nothing with it and waited until their officers were cleared in his death before releasing it.
As the body camera footage shows, officer Howie Lake II was already on the scene when Salamoni showed up. Sterling was not being combative and had simply been picking up his sales table for his CDs which he had permission from the owner to sell in front of the store.
Police were responding to a call from a homeless man who some claim was disgruntled after Sterling refused to give him money and ran him off from the store. The homeless man reportedly told police that Sterling was armed.
When Salamoni arrived, within a few seconds, he had his pistol trained on Sterling and was immediately threatening to kill him.
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As Sterling asks police why he's being harassed and subsequently held at gunpoint for selling CDs, Salamoni threatens to kill him.
"Don't f----- move or I'll shoot your f---- a--. Put your f------ hands on the car," Salamoni shouts.
When the officers attempt to get Sterling to put his hands on the hood of the car, a struggle ensues and the officers bring Sterling to the ground. One of the officers shouts, "He's got a gun!" and gunshots then ring out.
When the officers stand up, Sterling is in a pool of his own blood, the gun that he never went for remained in his pocket.
An internal police investigation into Sterling's actions determined the officers' actions "were not minor deviations from policy" then-Chief Murphy Paul said.
Paul cited "fear" as the factor that determined why the officer was fired. Salamoni created a situation in fear and hostility and violence were used instead of de-escalation.
"Our police officers are held to a higher standard," Chief Paul said. "Fear cannot be a driver for an officer's response to every incident. Unreasonable fear in an officer is dangerous."
Indeed, unreasonable fear is the reason cops in America kill more citizens than any other country in the world.
"Today you saw that Alton Sterling was not some wild, deranged? Cocaine-filled, high, big black man who was out of control. The person who was out of control was Blane Salamoni," Michael Adams, another lawyer for the Sterling family said at the time the body camera footage was released.
"Never once pushed an officer, touched an officer, kicked an officer, did anything," Stewart said. "But yet he ended up dead."