Attorneys representing the family of Alton Sterling announced Sunday (June 13) that the city of Baton Rouge would pay a $4.5 million settlement nearly five years after his killing by police. Sterling’s family filed a lawsuit against the city and others after the father of five was fatally shot by a white police officer on July 5, 2016. The settlement, the lawyers said in a statement, “will allow the city to heal and provide a pathway for Mr. Sterling’s children to be provided for financially,” as reported by The New York Times.
“The settlement was reached through hard work and collaboration between attorneys for Mr. Sterling’s family and the Baton Rouge City Council,” the statement added.
Alton Sterling, 37, died after two officers, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, responded to reports that a Black man was selling CDs in front of a convenience store and flashed a weapon threatening someone. Bystander cell phone video captured Sterling’s death and circulated social media. Sterling was killed the day before Philando Castile in Minnesota, igniting national protests against police brutality.
Neither the Justice Department nor the state of Louisiana brought charges against the officers involved in Sterling’s death. Salamoni was fired from the department, and Lake was suspended for three days.
An initial settlement of $5 million was rejected by the city council in September following the family’s lawsuit which argued that Sterling’s killing was connected to a long history of excessive force and racism within the city’s police department, according to a report by The Advocate. After Sterling was killed, several policy changes were implemented, something the family’s legal team noted in their statement.
“Our hope is that these policy changes, which focus on de-escalation, providing verbal warnings prior to using deadly force and prohibiting officers from both using chokeholds and firing into moving vehicles, will ensure that no other family has to endure the trauma and heartbreak that Mr. Sterling’s family went through,” the lawyers wrote in their statement.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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