There’s a real possibility that Baton Rouge cops Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II won’t face charges for the shooting of Alton Sterling. As disheartening as the graphic display of police brutality may seem to an overwhelming number of people around the world, legal experts argue prosecuting the cops involved would be a relatively difficult feat.
Although the graphic footage shows Alton Sterling being gunned down while he’s subdued, lying on the ground, it still may not be enough to build a substantial case that would hold up court.
Confronting the vexing question of why Alton Sterling was shot in the chest while lying on his back. https://t.co/lR5w5ME95M— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) July 9, 2016
Due to a number of legal loopholes and technicalities, the Baton Rouge cops could walk free, and sadly, many Americans have heard it all before, according to the Huffington Post. As many readers know, witness accounts were parallel with the horrific footage that was released. It has been confirmed that Alton Sterling was, indeed, unarmed.
The weapon was not removed from his pocket until after he was shot by Blane Salamoni. But, despite that fact, which should be considered a critical fact about the shooting, it still reportedly is not enough for a conviction because there are other factors the officers will probably argue.
Prosecutors only have two angles they can argue – the officers had no reason to feel threatened, or acted with gross negligence. It appears the devil will be in the details because small elements could be used in favor of the Baton Rouge cops.
One arguable element is Alton’s gun. Even though he never had the gun in hand, the Baton Rouge cops could still argue that they felt their lives were “in danger” because there was a gun present. Regardless of whether they truly felt threatened or not, it’s an angle their defense can use.
Another controversial issue is the whole argument about “resisting.” Many blue supporters quickly justify senseless murders with the resisting argument, but the real question is what should really be considered resisting? Since Alton Sterling moved while being tazed, the Baton Rouge cops see the action as resistance. While many people would probably agree that his movements were a natural reaction or reflex, the Baton Rouge cops can use this to their advantage in an effort to justify their use of force.
Unfortunately, the laws in place are designed to protect those in authority as opposed to the citizens officers who are employed to serve and protect. Sadly, these types of legal loopholes protect law enforcement officers who have a tendency to escalate situations that could probably be resolved with tactfulness and non-lethal force.
According to WBRZ, former U.S. attorney Don Cazayoux echoed similar sentiments during a recent interview in wake of the controversial shooting of Alton Sterling. Cazayoux even claims the footage that has been released does not actually show Salamoni and Lake were “guilty.”
“You have to show there was a deprivation of rights, the standard is high, but it’s just as high in a murder case. Basically in this case you have to show that they were guilty of murder,” said Cazayoux.
However, there are still so many unanswered questions about the shooting. According to the New Yorker, the Baton Rouge cops’ arguable facts still don’t seem to justify deadly force. Based on the two videos that have been released, it’s still rather difficult to determine what led to the physical altercation that required such a callous reaction. Without the surveillance footage, body cams, or dash cam, it is still quite difficult to understand how the shooting was justifiable.
Could the arguable points be enough for Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II to walk free? Many Baton Rouge residents are quite worried about the possibility of Alton Sterling’s death being disregarded. In less than 48 hours, it was reported that Jeronimo Yanez had been charged with the shooting death of Philando Castile.
For those who missed it, Castile was also a victim of an officer-involved shooting. Yanez, a former Falcon Heights police officer, fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop. Now, Baton Rouge residents are asking when will Salamoni and Lake be arrested and charged. In fact, the Baton Rouge president of the NAACP has called for the arrest of both officers, but to no avail. The intense wait has contributed to the growing tension between protesters and Baton Rouge cops. Protests are gradually becoming more intense as the days progress.
Protestors marched further down Airline, sitting down in the road. Totally blocked. pic.twitter.com/W4RQ0lVa1r— Bryn Stole (@BrynStole) July 9, 2016
Really getting rough now. At least seven arrests in last minute or two. pic.twitter.com/XzCEFf4LEe— Bryn Stole (@BrynStole) July 9, 2016
At this point, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II remain on paid leave as the investigation continues. No charges have been filed in connection with the shooting death of Alton Sterling. Hopefully, protesters are compelled to fight for more than justice. Changes to the current laws in place could also prevent further incidents like this from occurring.
Do you think the Baton Rouge cops will face charges for the shooting of Alton Sterling? Share your thoughts.
[Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images]