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Prosecutor says he will recuse himself from investigation into Alton Sterling's death

The district attorney in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said Monday that he will recuse himself from the investigation into the death of Alton Sterling, the man fatally shot by police last week outside a convenience store.

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Demonstrators stand in front of the East Baton Rouge Parish City Hall doors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The district attorney in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said Monday that he will recuse himself from the investigation into the death of Alton Sterling, the man fatally shot by police last week outside a convenience store.

Hillar Moore, the prosecutor, said in a report that he came to his decision to have another official oversee the case based on his relationship with the parents of one of the officers involved in the shooting, both veteran members of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The Justice Department quickly moved last week to take over the investigation into the police officers involved in Sterling's death, a decision that Moore had said he supported. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said the two officers are Blane Salamoni, a four-year veteran from a prominent local law enforcement family, and Howie Lake, a three-year veteran of the department.

On Monday, Moore released a 10-page report outlining details of the case as well as the district attorney's role in presenting murder cases to a grand jury for a determination about whether to seek or decline criminal charges.

"The only factor for the District Attorney in reaching this [recusal] decision involves his relationship to the parents of officer Blane Salamoni," Moore said.

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He wrote that Salamoni's parents have histories working with him while members of the Baton Rouge police force. In these roles - Salamoni's mother as the violent crime and crime scene commander, Salamoni's father commanding a special operations unit - both of them have worked with Moore for years. Moore added that he, his family and his staff have been given 24-hour security by Salamoni's father before.

While Moore said he has "no direct connection to either officer involved in this shooting," he said that legal precedent requires him to look beyond any direct ties and to consider whether there may be any conscious unconscious factors that could impact an impartial trial.

"It is my determination as District Attorney that given the history of a long and close working relationship with the parents of one of the officers involved in this shooting, there would always be questions of my partiality," Moore said in his report. "I state explicitly that this decision does not change my office's history of continuing to prosecute any local law enforcement officer responsible for violating our criminal laws. As we have always done, however, we will recuse ourselves when I have relationships that prevent me from handling the matter."

Moore said that he was asking for an attorney from the state attorney general's office or another prosecutor to take over the investigation into Sterling's death.

 

 

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