Two Louisiana police officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling outside a store in Baton Rouge in July 2016, prompting days of protests, will not be criminally charged, prosecutors have announced.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said at a press conference on Tuesday that the evidence in the case showed that the officers were trying to make a lawful arrest of Sterling, who had been reported to police after he confronted a man with a firearm.
Landry explained that Sterling failed to comply with the officers and actively resisted, prompting the officers to taze him twice, with little effect. An officer opened fire when he believed that Sterling was trying to grab a gun during a struggle with the second officer.
After the shooting, officers found a loaded handgun in his right front pocket. Sterling was also found to be under the influence of drugs, which Landry said may have contributed to his non-compliance.
As a result, the Louisiana Department of Justice has decided not to prosecute the officers. Landry added that two use of force experts had concluded that the officers acted in a “reasonable and justified manner” during the incident.
The fatal shooting of Sterling, who was black, also prompted a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. The investigation was closed in May 2017 after prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the officers had violated Sterling’s civil rights.