Alton Sterling’s five children have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming their father’s fatal shooting last year by a Baton Rouge police officer violated his civil rights and fits a pattern of excessive force and racism within the police department’s ranks.
The suit, filed Tuesday in Louisiana state court, claims the two white officers who encountered Sterling, who is black, on July 5, at a Baton Rouge convenience store used unnecessary force.
The Justice Department investigated Sterling’s shooting and announced last month that it will not file charges against Salamoni or Officer Howie Lake II, who also wrestled Sterling to the ground but didn’t fire his gun. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office has opened its own review of the case to determine if any state criminal charges are warranted.
“The City of Baton Rouge has a long standing pervasive policy of tolerating racist behaviour by some of its officers,” the suit says. “There have also been multiple verbal racist comments by officers reported to the department. This tolerance of such behaviour directly leads to the mistreatment of individuals of African American descent.”
Both officers remain on administrative leave, a standard procedure.
Nearly 200 protesters were arrested in Baton Rouge last July after Sterling’s death. Racial tensions were simmering in the city when a black military veteran from Missouri ambushed and killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers and wounded three others before being shot dead on 17 July.