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Stevante Clark, Stephon Clark's brother, at Sacramento City Council meeting


The two white Baton Rouge cops involved in the deadly 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling outside a convenience store -- after they already had him face-down on the ground -- will not be charged by state prosecutors in Louisiana, the state's attorney general, Jeff Landry, announced yesterday. Since the US Department of Justice announced last May that no federal charges would be brought, the officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, no longer face any criminal penalties for the shooting, although they are likely to lose their jobs and Sterling's family has filed a lawsuit in the case.

The encounter between Sterling and the cops was caught on video, although as in several other high profile cases, that didn't seem to make any difference -- the cop who did the shooting, Blane Salamoni, said he saw a gun and feared for his life, and that made it perfectly justifiable to shoot Sterling. Cellphone video showed that while police held Sterling face-down on the pavement, one shouted “He’s got a gun!” and Sterling was shot dead. All of the shots were fired by Salamoni. 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 New York Times reports,

Many in Baton Rouge have accused the officers, particularly Officer Salamoni, of engaging Mr. Sterling in such a way that an ugly confrontation was inevitable. Lawyers for the family have said that Mr. Sterling’s relatives were shown enhanced video and audio clips revealing that Officer Salamoni had said to Mr. Sterling, “I’ll kill you, bitch,” or something like it, as he put a gun to Mr. Sterling’s head.

That, apparently, was no big for Landry and his office; he explained that it wasn't up to his investigators "to determine whether the Baton Rouge Police Department’s policy was followed, or if certain tactics or language was more appropriate than others, but rather, just to determine whether the cops had committed a crime." They didn't, so please everyone just be quiet now. Somehow, that seems a tad unlikely.

Meanwhile, in California, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said yesterday that his office would oversee the investigation into the death of Stephon Clark, who was shot by two cops in his grandmother's backyard. The officers fired 20 shots at Clark; they said they thought he was holding a gun. It was an iPhone. Last night, a Sacramento City Council meeting was crowded with angry residents protesting the killing, and Clark's brother, Stevante Clark, refused to step down as he vented his anger and disgust at the shooting, and at the city's treatment of black residents. Clark got louder, angrier, and more vulgar, and Mayor Darrell Steinberg didn't help matters by repeatedly addressing him by his first name, with the patronizing tone of a junior high school vice principal. Here's a sample:

"If you really love me ...," he said before stopping for a moment. Then: "My brother just got shot."

"The mayor and the city of Sacramento have failed, you hear me?" Clark continued. "Rent is too high. The gang-banging has to stop. The poverty is uncontrollable."

Clark criticized Mayor Darrell Steinberg by name, saying, "He has no emotion," before adding, "The cops want to kill me because I know they're probably sick of this s--- right now."

Protesters also shut down the arena where the Sacramento Kings play -- for a second time -- and there's no indication that the city is doing much to satisfy anyone. We're at least slightly hopeful Attorney General Becerra will investigate the Sacramento police more aggressively than the Louisiana and federal authorities did with the Baton Rouge cops.

To close on a somewhat hopeful note: The Sacramento Kings and the Boston Celtics released this PSA featuring NBA players promising that they will not just "shut up and dribble," and that "there must be accountability."

So that's hopeful, especially if Donald Trump doesn't follow pro basketball.

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[https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/us/alton-sterling-baton-rouge.html / NBC News / CNN]

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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