Baton Rouge Rejects Settlement Offer in 2016 Shooting Case

A city council in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has rejected a settlement involving the 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling.

The Incident

Alton Sterling was involved with a struggle with police outside of a convenience store on July 5, 2016. Sterling was selling homemade CDs outside when two police officers, Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni, approached him.

The struggle resulted in Sterling being wrestled to the ground before being shot by Salamoni, according to the Associated Press. Reports state that Lake did not discharge his gun.

Several eyewitnesses recorded the event with their cell phone cameras, and footage quickly went viral on social media. Protests were held and resulted in around 200 individuals being placed under arrest.

The Outcome

The Sterling family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2017, with the legal action claiming that the police officers used racism and excessive force in their actions and were not given adequate training or police procedures, which contributed to Sterling’s death.

The lawsuit was aimed not only at the two officers involved, but also at the former police chief, the police department as a whole, and the city of Baton Rouge.

East Baton Rouge Parish’s city attorney and a team of lawyers representing the Sterling family met in October 2019 and agreed on a $5 million settlement. However, family members believe the settlement was rejected because the council was not provided with enough legal advice or relevant information on the case.

In the hearing, which took place on Wednesday, September 9, six council members voted “yes,” five members voted “no,” and one member abstained. Seven “yes” votes are needed to approve civil claims such as this.

It is likely that the case will go to trial in March of 2021, and the family is hopeful for justice.

As this case is a developing story, please check back for further updates concerning the trial.

Lee McFarland

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I write about current events which affect attorneys.