BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana police chief plans to announce on Friday whether he is disciplining two white officers for the fatal shooting of a black man whose death set off widespread protests.
At an evening press conference, Baton Rouge police Chief Murphy Paul also is expected to release body camera footage and other videos of the officers’ deadly encounter with Alton Sterling outside a convenience store in July 2016.
Officer Blane Salamoni shot Sterling six times during a struggle outside the Triple S Food Mart, where the 37-year-old black man was selling homemade CDs. Officer Howie Lake II helped wrestle Sterling to the ground but didn’t fire his weapon.
The officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling’s pocket. As a convicted felon, Sterling could not legally carry a gun.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Tuesday that his office isn’t charging either officer with state crimes. The Justice Department ruled out federal criminal charges last May.
Both officers have remained on paid administrative leave since the shooting.
Sterling’s death inflamed racial tensions in the state’s capital city and led to protests where nearly 200 people were arrested.
In June 2017, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome called on Paul’s predecessor, Carl Dabadie Jr., to fire Salamoni. Dabadie refused, saying it would be improper and premature because the shooting remained under investigation.
Paul said Tuesday that he and three deputy chiefs would preside over a disciplinary hearing — closed to the public — before he imposes any punishment.
Salamoni’s attorney, John McLindon, said Tuesday that he expected the officer to be fired. He called it “grossly unfair” that a disciplinary hearing was planned less than a week after the end of the criminal investigations. Lake’s lawyer, Kyle Kershaw, said his client’s actions complied with department procedures.
Salamoni had served as a Baton Rouge police officer for four years before the shooting; Lake was a three-year veteran of the force.
Two cellphone videos of the incident quickly spread on social media after the shooting. Paul said Tuesday that he will release other videos of the incident, including footage from the officers’ body cameras and the store’s surveillance camera, after he makes a disciplinary decision.