A day after a former South Carolina cop pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for shooting a man in the back, two Baton Rouge cops were cleared in another controversial fatal shooting. A federal prosecutor said of the Louisiana case, “We simply did not have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either officer violated the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
A day after the Justice Department extracted a guilty plea from a South Carolina police officer who fatally shot a black man in the back, a federal prosecutor in Louisiana explained on Wednesday why the department had declined to bring charges against two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black man in Baton Rouge, says the New York Times. The announcement brought an end to what federal officials called an exhaustive investigation into the death of Alton Sterling, who was killed on July 5 in the parking lot of a Baton Rouge convenience store where he often peddled CDs. “It was the unanimous decision of all the prosecutors and agents in this case that we simply did not have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either officer violated the federal criminal civil rights laws,” said Corey R. Amundson, the acting U.S. attorney, said Wednesday in Baton Rouge.
A day earlier and some 700 miles away, Michael Slager, a former police officer in North Charleston, S.C., pleaded guilty to a charge of willfully using excessive force to deprive Walter L. Scott of his civil rights when he shot Mr. Scott as he fled on foot in April 2015. The two cases have been among the most explosive in the nation’s complex and emotional debate about race and policing, and the developments in each came at a time when the country waits to see how episodes of police violence, which have spurred both rioting and peaceful protests, will be addressed by a Justice Department now headed by Jeff Sessions.