Baton Rouge, La., to pay $4.5M to settle lawsuit over Alton Sterling's death

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Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers at a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La., in 2016, sparking days of protests. File Photo via Facebook

Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers at a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La., in 2016, sparking days of protests. File Photo via Facebook

June 12 (UPI) -- The city of Baton Rouge, La., has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the family of Alton Sterling -- who was killed by a police officer in 2016 -- for $4.5 million.

The city will pay Sterling's five children $1 million up front and the rest in equal payments over the next four years, according to court records reviewed by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

"This matter has been resolved," parish attorney Andy Dotson said Friday. "And the settlement agreement made with the plaintiff will proceed as planned as voted upon by the council."

The settlement brings an end to a lawsuit filed by Sterling's family in 2017 accusing the city of inadequate police training. The suit named East Baton Rouge Parish, the Baton Rouge Police Department, Police Chief Carl Dabadie and two police officers involved in Sterling's death, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II.

Salamoni shot Sterling, 37, six times as Sterling sold homemade compact discs outside a Baton Rouge store on July 5, 2016. Salamoni said Sterling was reaching for a gun in his pocket when the shooting began. The shooting followed a struggle between Sterling and officers Salamoni and Lake.

The suit said Salamoni's aggressive behavior in the incident is evidence of wrongdoing. It adds that the shooting is a demonstration of a larger issue of culture and training within the Baton Rouge police department. It also says Dabadie and the police department did not train officers in de-escalation tactics, and did not comply with a deferral consent decree to hire and train more Black officers.

Lawyers for Sterling's child said Friday they hope the lawsuit results in changes within the police department.

"Our hope is that these policy changes, which focus on de-escalation, providing verbal warnings prior to using deadly force and prohibiting officers from both using chokeholds and firing into moving vehicles, will ensure that no other family has to endure the trauma and heartbreak that Mr. Sterling's family went through and will create a better future going forward for Baton Rouge residents," they said.

The incident was caught in two videos, which prompted Black Lives Matter protests.

Federal investigators reviewed the shooting but did not prosecute the officers on civil rights charges, saying investigators could not prove the officers acted willfully and unreasonably.

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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