Alton Sterling's Family Offered $4.5 Million Settlement After Higher Offer Was Voted Down By Council
A previous effort to pay the family $5 million was voted down last year.
February 11, 2021 at 4:38 pm
“I need everyone in the city of Baton Rouge to know there’s evidence out there with regard to Blane Salamoni’s actions and his history and his record that people are unaware of, and this was a mitigation of risk and a recommendation from our legal counsel,” council member Jen Racca told The Advocate.
Sterling was killed on July 5, 2016, after being detained by Baton Rouge Police Department Officers Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Salamoni fired six shots into Sterling's chest while kneeling on him after the two officers had repeatedly used their Tasers on him and tackled him to the ground.
Despite the video that circulated widely, Louisiana's Attorney General Jeff Landry defended Salamoni and Lake, eventually deciding he would not bring charges against them, CNN reported.
“We have concluded that the officers in question acted as reasonable officers under existing law and were justified in their use of force,” Landry wrote in a report about the shooting.
The Justice Department also investigated the case and did not bring charges against the officers, according to The New York Times.
“They’re not going to bring charges on anybody. Why would they do that? This is white America,” Veda Washington, Sterling’s aunt, said during a press conference in 2018.
The East Baton Rouge Metro Council has long considered providing a settlement to Sterling's family and nearly did last year. But the $5 million figure floated was voted down by the council, and efforts to find a lower number started again this year.
The council voted in favor of the $4.5 million settlement in a 7-4 vote, according to WBRZ.
"I am pleased our metro council was able to find a consensus and approve an offer of settlement in the Alton Sterling civil case. After nearly five years, the people of Baton Rouge are finally one step closer to getting much-needed closure in this traumatic episode in our history," Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said in a statement.
"Now we must continue the work of building a more fair and equitable community, where every citizen is treated justly, no matter their race or ethnicity," Broome's statement continued.
As Blavity previously reported, Sterling's family sued the city over his killing and was going to trial on March 1 after the city struck down the $5 million settlement. The Advocate reported that the case could still go to trial if Sterling's family decides to reject the new settlement.
“When a jury actually hears all the horrific things, not just what officer Salamoni did, which the video backed up, but what supervisors and superiors did to allow him to remain on the force, that jury verdict could easily be $100 million,” L. Chris Stewart, the lawyer for Sterling's children, said after the council’s decision to refuse the $5 million settlement.
Lake only received a three-day suspension for his actions with Sterling, and he spent years fighting the brief suspension. Salamoni was allowed to appeal his firing, and he was eventually allowed to retire.
According to a Blavity report from 2019, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul apologized to Sterling's family for the department even having hired Salamoni, during a press conference.
“We are sorry Baton Rouge. I want to apologize to the family of Alton Sterling and also to his kids. We’re sorry because he should have never been hired. I sincerely apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in building barriers in communities of color in Baton Rouge,” Paul, who was not police chief at the time of Sterling's killing, said.