The Justice Department won't be charging the officers who shot Alton Sterling to death last July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to sources who spoke to the Washington Post. Sterling's shooting was one of two police shootings of black men caught on video within the space of a couple days last summer; the day after Sterling was shot, video posted to Facebook Live showed the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile, a school cafeteria manager, during a traffic stop in Minnesota.

The police who shot Sterling in the parking lot of a convenience store said he resembled the description of a man reported to have been threatening someone with a gun. Video shows that while police held Sterling face-down on the pavement, one shouted "He's got a gun!" and then Sterling was shot dead. Sterling did have a gun in his front pocket; the officers claimed he was was reaching for it before the cops shot him, although the store owner who witnessed the shooting said he only saw the police removing the gun from Sterling's pocket after it was all over and Sterling was dead.

The Justice Department so far has had no comment on the reported decision not to charge the officers. In the week following the shootings of Sterling and Castile, a deranged sniper shot and killed five police officers in Dallas near the end of a march protesting police violence. And then three Baton Rouge cops were killed by a black man who believed in a bizarre stew of black nationalism, self-improvement jargon, and sovereign citizen ideology. When Barack Obama said it was possible to mourn slain police officers and ordinary citizens shot by police, rightwingers were outraged that Barack Obama didn't support police at all. In November of 2016 Donald Trump was elected President on a campaign of promising to be the Law And Order president.

The perceived lack of communication between the DOJ and people in Baton Rouge leading up to the decision not to charge the officers -- Justice has had no contact with local police or government, nor has it contacted Sterling's family -- has raised tensions in the city, according to Democratic congressman Cedric L. Richmond, who wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week,

The Department of Justice’s failure to communicate with the community has created angst and nervousness, and I fear carries the potential for increased tension between the community and law enforcement [...] It is inappropriate and against the interests of public safety . . . to allow this level of uncertainty to continue.

Yeah, whatever. "Communication" was Barack Obama's thing, and this is the era of the New Cruelty. You'll be told of the Justice Department's decision when the Justice Department is good and ready, and you'll like it. And if there are any demonstrations, they'll be called riots regardless of whether there's any rioting (and please, no rioting, please).

In other Cops-Shooting-Americans news, former cop Michael Slager has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating the civil rights of Walter Scott two years ago when Slager shot Scott to death in North Charleston, South Carolina. Slager was caught on cell phone video firing eight shots into Scott's back as Scott tried to run away from Slager, who insisted he feared for his life from the departing unarmed black man.

Slager could face up to life in prison on the civil rights charge; he was also charged with murder in a state court; following a hung jury in December, the guilty plea on the federal charge will end any further court action against him:

Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will ask the court to apply sentencing guidelines that in effect would be for a second-degree murder charge. Notably, the deal expressly allows prosecutors to urge Judge David C. Norton, who did not immediately set a sentencing hearing, to order Mr. Slager to spend the rest of his life in prison.

“The Department of Justice will hold accountable any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of our citizens by using excessive force,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Such failures of duty not only harm the individual victims of these crimes; they harm our country, by eroding trust in law enforcement and undermining the good work of the vast majority of honorable and honest police officers.”

Only a very, very cynical person would think the plea deal in the shooting of Walter Scott will now be held up every time the feds choose not to prosecute other cops, thus proving the DOJ is still very concerned about police shooting American citizens to death.

Finally, the Texas cop who fatally shot a 15-year-old boy through the passenger window of a car driving away from the officer has been fired by Balch Springs Police Department. Chief Jonathan Haber said Tuesday night, "From our policies, which I went by, there were violations. I acted on them," so that's a start. No charges have yet been filed against the cop, Roy Oliver, who

shot his rifle into a vehicle full of teenagers Saturday night as they were driving away from a party. Jordan Edwards was fatally struck in the head, with his brothers beside him in the vehicle.

After originally reporting the vehicle had been aggressively driving toward officers, Balch Springs' police chief said video footage showed the teenagers were driving away when Oliver opened fire.

Yes, imagine that -- the video evidence showed something completely different from cops' initial reports. After holding a press conference that went only with Oliver's account of what happened, police later retracted that version as facts became clearer. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said police had also held Jordan's brother in jail overnight after the shooting; police claimed they had jailed him to question about the shooting. Oh, and there's more:

Meritt said police also detained Jordan's father when he showed up at the station asking about his children.

"Balch Springs PD called the Dallas County Sheriff's Office and asked if they could restrain Jordan's father because of his hostile behavior," he said.

A man was angry after police shot his son for the crime of riding in a vehicle that was driving away? That's unthinkable! Arrest him before he bulks up to three times his normal size and starts destroying the police station with his hands.

Still, the department fired the cop right quick, and there could even be charges, maybe, possibly. We'll keep you updated. Make sure you have liquor on hand as we head into the summer. Everything should be fine.

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[WaPo / NYT / Dallas Morning News]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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