March 30 (UPI) — The Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana fired Blane Salamoni, the officer who fatally shot Alton Sterling in 2016 outside a convenience store.
Police Chief Murphy Paul announced the disciplinary action Friday and released footage from the body cameras worn by Salamoni and officer Howie Lake II, who were involved in the confrontation with Sterling.
The announcement comes three days after Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said no charges would be filed against either officer for the shooting, which kicked off a fresh wave of protests, some of which involved the Black Lives Matter movement.
While the state didn’t find criminal fault for either officer, Paul said both violated police department policies on command of temper. He said Salamoni also violated policies on use of force, leading to his firing. Paul suspended Lake for his actions.
“These actions were not minor deviation from policy,” Paul said during a news conference Friday.
The new, graphic videos of the incident show Lake was the first to arrive at the convenience store after police received reports of a man matching Sterling’s description selling CDs and threatening another man with a gun. Salamoni arrived a short time later and immediately yelled at Sterling to “Don’t [expletive] move or I’ll shoot you in your [expletive] head.”
Sterling appears to struggle with the officers, who told him to put his hands on a vehicle parked in front of the store. They then shoot him twice with a Taser before Sterling falls to the ground. On the ground, Sterling appears to struggle again and one officer yells out that he’s found a gun while searching Sterling. Salamoni then fires six shots, killing Sterling.
“I take officer safety to heart, but our actions as law enforcement officers needs to reflect both the legal and community standards, as well as the policies and practices of our police department,” Paul said, adding that “fear cannot be a driver” for officers’ decisions.
Sandra Sterling, the woman who raised Alton Sterling, told CNN she saw the body camera videos before they were released.
“When you see those other … videos of Blane Salamoni killing Alton Sterling, you’ll cry again,” she said. “And when you cry again, you’ll be telling the Sterling family, ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
Sterling’s five children filed a wrongful death lawsuit last summer against the city of Baton Rouge — accusing the city of inadequate police training.