Urban League of Louisiana Issues Statement on Impending Alton Sterling Investigation Announcement: Justice Must Prevail

NEW ORLEANS (March 26, 2018) –  On the eve of a planned announcement to the family and community regarding the outcome of an investigation into the police shooting of Mr. Alton Sterling, there is only the lens of justice that must prevail. While we do not know the extent of the decision, history tells us that we must prepare to always stay vigilant in our fight to protect black lives. Truth is, if the decision is surprisingly and unexpectedly in furtherance of justice for Alton Sterling, we still have so much work to do to eradicate the injustice and racial bias that exists when these interactions occur, as evidenced by the recent shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento.  If, on the other, more-expected hand, there is a decision that fails to hold officers Salamoni and Lake responsible, we clearly have work to do to fix our broken system.

From day one (now more than 630 days since the shooting of Alton Sterling), the Urban League of Louisiana has called for the firing of Officer Salamoni and possibly Officer Lake, and the announcement tomorrow will not change our position. The former US Attorney indicated that they acted recklessly, negligently, exercised bad judgment and used inappropriate tactics, violating many of Baton Rouge Police Department’s own policies and procedures. Rather than using de-escalation tactics, the officers instead chose to escalate the situation.   We urge Baton Rouge Chief of Police Murphy Paul to again review the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the department to ensure that they model national best-practices, and encourage and facilitate the furtherance of justice and community trust.
Further, we demand that all video, audio and body camera footage of the moments preceding Mr. Sterling’s death be made available to the public immediately to show the truth of what occurred. There is no reasonable excuse to continue to conceal the truth.

As we continue to keep Mr. Sterling’s family in our thoughts and prayers, we call upon the leaders in city government and the Baton Rouge Police Department to do what is right. Take responsibility for those members of your force who have not answered the call to justly and fairly protect and serve. In order for the city of Baton Rouge to heal, we must confront and resolve this matter at all levels, instituting policies and protocols that represent the best of what we are as a community – a place where every individual is afforded the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.