No civil rights charges for Baton Rouge police in Alton Sterling shooting death

No civil rights charges for Baton Rouge police in Alton Sterling shooting death
The US Department of Justice has decided against filing civil rights charges over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last summer. Viral video of the incident further intensified the nationwide issue of police shootings.

The Washington Post first cited four people close to the matter as sources Tuesday evening, then other media outlets followed, including the Associated Press and New York Times. The DOJ confirmed the reports early Wednesday.

Federal civil rights charges require evidence of an officer’s intent at the time of the alleged violation.

"It is not enough to show that an officer acted recklessly or with negligence or by mistake, exercised bad judgement, used poor tactics or even that the officer escalated the situation where he could have de-escalated it," Corey Amundson, Acting US attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, said Wednesday.

READ MORE: Protesters in Baton Rouge police killing claim history of 'racist law enforcement' – lawsuit

Last July, in front of the Triple S Food Mart, Baton Rouge police officers Howie Lake and Blane Salamoni attempted to handcuff Sterling, 37, who they said matched the description of a man reported to have threatened someone with a gun at that location. Multiple cellphone videos showed Sterling refusing to get on the ground before being tackled by one of the officers and then pinned on his back by both.

“He’s got a gun! Gun!” one of the officers yells. “Hey bro, you f***ing move, I swear to God.”

Other unintelligible words are shouted by the same officer before the other one fires his weapon. At least six shots are heard in one video. Sterling died at the scene.

Sterling had been armed and police saw the butt of his gun in his pants, according to the police search warrant affidavit.

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome reportedly visited Sterling's family for 45 minutes Tuesday.

A prayer vigil was held Tuesday where Sterling died. Family members not only were upset with the reported decision, but how it was leaked to the media before they heard about it.