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Alton Sterling’s family seeks officers’ immediate dismissal

FILE - In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017, file photo, Kimberly Pierson, mother of Alton Sterling's son Na'Quincy Pierson, cries as she speaks to reporters following a meeting with the U.S. Justice Department at federal court in Baton Rouge, La. The family of Alton Sterling is demanding the immediate firing of the two officers involved in the man's death. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The family of Alton Sterling is demanding the immediate firing of the two officers involved in the man’s death.

In a letter Wednesday to Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., attorneys contend the officers violated the police department’s policy regarding de-escalation.

It specifically cites information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice during a meeting in early May that Officer Blane Salamoni put his gun to Sterling’s head and, using an expletive, threatened to shoot him.

“Not only is this a direct violation of BRPD’s policy regarding de-escalation, but also a violation of multiple police procedures and policies recognized nationwide. More importantly, Officer Salamoni’s actions directly escalated the entire interaction with Mr. Sterling, having placed in Mr. Sterling’s mind that he was going to be killed no matter what he did, even if he complied,” attorneys representing Sterling’s children said.

Sterling, 37, struggled with the officers before Salamoni shot him six times outside a convenience store last July. He was selling homemade CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart when police were called to the store to investigate a report of a man with a gun.

The letter suggests that the department has known about Salamoni’s alleged behavior since the night of the incident “and did not take any action to terminate his employment for putting a gun to Mr. Sterling’s head, simply because his hands were not flat on the hood and he was asking why he was being confronted.”

Broome, in a statement late Wednesday, said she has consistently sought “an expedited resolution to the investigation into Mr. Sterling’s death” and called “for disciplinary actions against” the officers.

“I have advised (Dabadie) of my concerns regarding the employment status of these officers. I believe they should be removed from paid administrative leave and disciplined consistent with the severity of their actions. In Officer Salamoni’s case, this warrants termination,” the mayor said.

Dabadie did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officers involved in the deadly encounter. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has begun his own investigation into the shooting.

Landry’s investigation “is not related to whether or not Officer Salamoni keeps his job and is fit to be a member of the BRPD, that decision was made by Officer Salamoni himself when he put a loaded department firearm to Mr. Sterling’s head without justification and with reckless disregard,” the attorneys said.

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