Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II will not face any federal charges for shooting Alton Sterling in 2016.
CNN reports that federal prosecutors were not able to find enough evidence to file civil rights charges against the officers. The case will be handed off to Louisiana officials, who will determine whether or not the state will file any charges.
“We would have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Salamoni did not believe that Mr. Sterling was actually going for a gun … and that he simply decided to shoot him,” said Corey Amundson, acting US attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana.
Alton Sterling was shot by Baton Rouge officers in July 2016. Video taken by a bystander showed that officers pinned Sterling to the ground, but still shot him after claiming he was reaching for a gun. Details surrounding the incident slowly became public over the past 10 months, including a batch of new information following the federal government’s decision.
Most importantly, it was found that Officer Salamoni, who shot Sterling, held a gun to his head before the Louisana man was even taken to the ground. Salamoni is also suspected of uttering the phrase, “I’m going to kill you, bitch” to Sterling during the scuffle.
“Oh my God, that was the hardest thing ever,” Sandra Sterling said. “To hear Salamoni tell my nephew, my child who I love so much, that I’m going to kill you. He put that gun to his head. … Salamoni put that gun to his head and said I’m going to kill you. So how do you think Alton felt? How do you think Alton felt after hearing that I’m going to kill you?”
Local officials are cautious of any public backlash to the decision. For example, the Louisana Attorney General Jeff Landry has already started asking for patience.
“A thorough and complete investigation could take a considerable amount of time; as such, we ask for patience from the public and the press,” said Landry.
To take matters further, the Louisiana State University Athletic’s Department sent an email to its student-athletes following the ruling. The department specifically asked student-athletes to not wear LSU branded clothing or associate themselves with the university if they choose to protest or speak out against the decision, according to Deadspin.
“If you choose to express your opinion on this issue, including on social media, we ask that you not wear LSU gear or use LSU branding,” the email reads.