Questions, concerns linger after DOJ decision on Sterling case

Police officers confront a group of police brutality protesters in Baton Rouge Louisiana

Almost 350 athletes at LSU in Baton Rouge were sent an email this week from the university's athletics department discussing the protests that have taken place since federal authorities opted not to charge two officers for the death of a man shot by police.

Corey Amundson, acting attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, said lethal-force experts determined the officers acted in a reasonable manner confronting an armed suspect. At one of those protests, in Dallas, five police officers were killed by a lone sniper.

CHRIS STEWART: We learned that Officer Salamoni walked up to Alton Sterling and put a gun to his head and said, I'll kill you, bitch.

And for more on how people in Baton Rouge are reacting to this news, we have Sharon Weston Broome on the line. And Greg, what else did we learn today about this shooting? "And as we were going through the process, I kept asking them, 'What happens if they come back with this decision?' ..." Looking at this - and it's a 71-second incident that they looked at.

"It's been nearly a year and we're still suffering like it happened yesterday", said one of Sterling's aunts, Veda Sterling.

Sterling, 37, was selling homemade CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart when police were called to the store to investigate a report of a man with a gun. So they were somewhat concerned about that. Lake kneels on Sterling's left arm while Salamoni tries to gain control of Sterling's right arm. They had trouble controlling him. A person familiar with the Justice Department's decision told The Associated Press that federal officials do not plan to charge two white officers in the death of Sterling, who was shot during a struggle in July. They Tasered him again. Prosecutors said they could not prove the officers acted unreasonably.


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38-year-old Thallemus Thomas, of Zachary, said he made the post on the fake account, threatening to kill officers and their family members. A judge sentenced one of the officers to 40 years in prison after a jury convicted him in March of lesser charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter. Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were placed on administrative leave.

Civil rights activists are watching closely for clues to how the Trump administration's Justice Department intends to handle racially charged shootings by police. And because Salamoni appeared to be concerned about his safety, they didn't - couldn't meet that standard, they said. Reed says she broke down crying and is "heartbroken", not only because of the decision but because the Justice Department didn't notify the family first.

The other component is the officer's "willfulness", or intent to violate someone's constitutional right."This high legal standard-one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law-requires proof that the officer acted with the specific intent to do something the law forbids". No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. My hope is that the state will indeed look at this case very seriously and move forward and help this community and, more importantly, this family bring closure to this issue. "How do you think Alton felt after hearing that?" "Sterling was not going for a gun, or more accurately that the officers did not believe he was reaching for a gun and therefore we can't establish that the lethal force that was used was unreasonable".

And joining us now to talk about prosecutors and police is NPR's law enforcement correspondent Martin Kaste. Thank you so much.

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