Federal officials close investigation into death of Alton Sterling

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said Baton Rouge officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake had good reason to believe Sterling, 37, was armed with a gun and was continuously resisting arrest.

"The Louisiana Department of Justice can not proceed with a prosecution of either Officer Howie Lake or Officer Blane Salamoni", Landry told reporters after meeting with members of Sterling's family in private.

"The way they killed him was in cold blood", she added. "They said it was justifiable, what happened to Alton was justifiable".

Repercussions still could come for Officers Blane Salamoni, who shot Sterling, and Officer Howie Lake II. Two cellphone videos of the shooting quickly spread on social media, leading to protests during which almost 200 people were arrested.

During a 10-month probe, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and prosecutors reviewed images of the incident captured by body cameras, mobile phones and store surveillance cameras as well as witness accounts and other evidence.

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During a 90-second encounter, Salamoni told Sterling, "I'll kill you, bitch", before the officers told him to put his hands on the hood of the auto. Apparently, it was enough that Sterling failed to comply with the officer's orders, even though there was no visible proof that Sterling even reached for a gun in the first place. As a convicted felon, Sterling could not legally carry a gun.

Residents at the convenience store where Sterling was killed said they weren't surprised by Landry's decision.

Lawyers say Louisiana's attorney general is set to meet with relatives of a black man who was shot and killed in 2016 by a white police officer and inform them whether his office will charge either of the two officers involved in the struggle.

We expect to hear from the AG's office as to whether the officers involved in the death of Sterling will face any criminal charges.

The Justice Department last spring said that Salamoni at this point put a gun to Sterling's head.

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Felma White, a 63-year-old retired food service worker, wore a shirt adorned with screen-printed news clippings showing Sterling's grieving family and newspaper headlines about the shooting.

The store's owner, who considered Sterling a friend and allowed him to sell CDs out front, recorded Sterling's interaction with police. Late a year ago, a judge ruled that dozens of protesters should receive between $500 and $1,000 each as payment for having their constitutional rights denied due to the use of excessive force.

In the footage, one of the officers shouts, "He's got a gun!" Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said Tuesday that his department still intends to complete disciplinary hearings for the officers, including releasing findings such as dash-cam video.

Following the decision, celebrities including "A Wrinkle in Time" director Ava DuVernay and "Being Mary Jane" star Gabrielle Union took to Twitter to respond to the state of Louisiana's failure to press charges. Trust between the Baton Rouge community and law enforcement has deeply eroded.

Sterling, whose videotaped shooting by police in Baton Rouge last summer sparked tense protests across the city.

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  • Ryan Wade