Politics

Authorities Right Not to Charge Cops in Killing, Advocate Says

Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund president says officers feared for their lives in confrontation with Alton Sterling

A law enforcement advocate Wednesday defended Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision not to seek criminal charges against two police officers involved in a highly publicized shooting of a black man.

Alton Sterling died in 2016 during a confrontation with police in Baton Rouge, the state capital.

Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that police critics have focused on the relatively minor crime police were responding to — reports that Sterling was selling bootleg compact discs outside of a food mart.

“It’s important to know that Alton Sterling, when police shot and killed him in July of 2016, was not killed for selling bootleg CDs outside of a store,” said Hosko (pictured above). “He was not killed for trying to make — trying to eke out an existence, making a living. What he was killed for was that he was in possession of an illegal firearm, one that he had no right to possess.”

Hosko added, “He resisted. He pulled away from them. He ignored their verbal commands. He continued to do it after he was tased, twice, by police.”

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Landry announced Tuesday that a 10-month investigation showed that Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake acted properly. That conclusion follows an earlier decision by the local U.S. attorney’s office not to seek federal civil right charges against the officers.

Hosko, a former assistant director of the FBI, said Sterling would have faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison had he been prosecuted as a felon in possession of a firearm. The toxicology report showed that Sterling had a large number of heavy-duty drugs in his system, Hosko said.

“It is critically important if you’re going to be informed, if your listeners are going to be informed, to find this report and to read it,” he said.

Hosko pointed to an a 2009 incident involving Sterling and police that “almost mirrors what the police were dealing with when they shot and killed him. Almost the identical conduct and behavior with police where he was resistant to police commands, resistant to a pat down. A struggle ends up, you know, coughing up a 9mm handgun that falls to the ground.”

Hosko urged people not to rush to judgment when they read about police shootings. He pointed to the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who died in police custody as officers were driving him to jail after an arrest.

Hosko said his organization helped raise money for the legal defense of the six officers who were charged in connection with the death and sat in on some of the trials. He said the best available evidence was that Gray caused his own injuries by thrashing around the back of the police van.

Related: One Bad Police Officer Cannot and Should Not Taint All

“Of course, at the end of the day, six accused cops were able to walk away and get their jobs back,” he said.

Hosko blasted the prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, who brought the charges: “She got egg on her face and worse when those six cops were able to defend themselves successfully.”

Protests that erupted after Gray’s death caused millions of dollars of property damage and injured 100 officers, Hosko said.

“For what? For what?” he asked. “No one wanted to wait and listen to the facts.”

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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