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No charges expected for Louisiana officers in shooting of black man | Reuters



By Bryn Stole
| BATON ROUGE, La.

BATON ROUGE, La. U.S. Justice Department officials were expected to announce on Wednesday that they will not bring federal charges against two white officers in the fatal shooting of a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last summer, according to news media reports.

The shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, was one of a series of high-profile killings of black men by white officers in recent years that sparked nationwide protests and gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Justice Department has not confirmed the decision not to prosecute the officers for civil rights violations.

Members of Sterling’s family were meeting at midday with Justice Department officials to discuss the case and planned to hold a news conference afterward. The Justice Department was expected to make a formal announcement at a 1 p.m. CDT (1800 GMT) news conference.

Wednesday’s events came a day after a white former South Carolina officer pleaded guilty in the 2015 shooting of an unarmed black man and a Texas officer was fired for shooting an unarmed 15-year-old boy on Saturday.

The rapid developments were likely to intensify scrutiny of how Republican President Donald Trump holds police accountable for racially charged killings.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has said the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama unfairly targeted police in civil rights investigations, has already ordered a review of federal agreements with police departments, a move that alarmed civil liberties advocates.

Trump has criticized a “war on police” and signaled a broad shift in focus from civil rights to law and order.

Sterling was killed after being confronted by Baton Rouge officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake on July 5, 2016, outside a convenience store where he sold CDs.

The next day, a Minnesota police officer fatally shot a black motorist, Philando Castile, whose girlfriend broadcast the aftermath live on social media.

Video of both incidents quickly went viral, fueling a fierce debate over police treatment of minorities.

A day after the Castile shooting, five Dallas police officers were gunned down by a sniper at a peaceful protest in apparent retaliation. Ten days later, a man shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, killing three.

Sessions is still responsible for several ongoing criminal investigations into other high-profile police killings, including the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland that same year, both of which ignited widespread protests.

The legal standard for prosecuting police officers for federal civil rights violations is relatively high.

(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)



www.reuters.com


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