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Officer Who Killed Alton Sterling Is Fired, The One Who Pinned Him Down Is Suspended

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Photo by Josh Brasted Getty Images

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announces the disciplinary decision on the officers who shot Alton Sterling in 2016.

The Baton Rouge police officer who fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, outside of a convenience store six times was fired Friday, after a disciplinary hearing determined he had violated the department's policies.

Police Chief Murphy Paul announced the dismissal of Officer Blane Salamoni at a press conference.

"These actions were not minor deviations from policy as they contributed to the outcome that resulted in the death of another human being," Paul said.

Officer Howie Lake II, who wrestled Sterling to the ground but refrained from firing his gun, received a three-day suspension.

Paul stressed his decision "was not based on politics, it was not based on emotions," but rather on facts, eye witness testimony and recommendations from board members.

The department also released extremely graphic video evidence previously unseen by the public, as well as police reports and other documents as required by the state's public records law. The videos include footage captured by convenience store surveillance cameras, two police body camera videos and dashboard camera video.

Paul explained the rationale for the officers' differing fates: "We have two officers in involved in one incident. The same incident with two different responses, two different perspectives. And they perceived the threat differently."

In the case of Lake, the administrators concluded he had violated the department's policy on "command of temper." But Paul praised him for attempting to use de-escalation techniques consistent with training.

An investigation into Salamoni found he had had violated "use of force" and "command of temper" regulations. Paul said the officer's termination became effective Friday.

"Fear cannot be a driver for an officer's response to every incident. Unreasonable fear within an officer is dangerous," Paul said,

He added that he hoped his actions "bring closure to a cloud that has been over our community for far too long."

Sterling's 2016 death sparked protests against police brutality throughout Baton Rouge resulting in the arrest of about 200 people.

Earlier this week Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry declined to press charges against either of the men saying there was no evidence that they could be held criminally responsible for Sterling's death.

Similarly, after a year-long investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded in May that there was insufficient evidence to charge the pair with a federal crime.

Both officers have remained on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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