Baton Rouge Mayor On Alton Sterling Case
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And Baton Rouge Police Officer Blane Salamoni has been fired in the shooting death of Alton Sterling in 2016. But Howie Lake, the second officer involved, was suspended for just three days by Police Chief Murphy Paul. Mr. Paul spoke at a news conference yesterday.
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MURPHY PAUL: We are moving forward as a police department to make sure that our police officers are getting the proper training and that incidents such as this can - you know, won't happen again.
SIMON: Both officers say they will appeal. The attorney general of Louisiana decided not to press criminal charges. Sharon Weston Broome is the mayor of Baton Rouge and joins us now. Mayor Broome, thanks so much for being with us.
SHARON WESTON BROOME: Thank you for having me this morning.
SIMON: I've seen the video several times. I bet you have, too. What is the difference in the actions of two officers that one got fired and one just suspended for three days?
BROOME: Well, I would say that the one officer tried - attempted to approach the situation in a de-escalation mode while the other one was obviously extremely aggressive from the very beginning of the encounter. And as our chief stated yesterday, it's important that officers, who we realize put their lives on the line for folks, approach situations not in an attitude of fear. And so perhaps that is what was one of the problems in this situation, that it escalated and accelerated so far in a very short period of time.
SIMON: And, Mayor Broome, what do you say to those people in your city who note that Alton Sterling certainly did have a gun in his pocket, but he was down on the ground and he was subdued when he was shot, and a man dies like that, there ought to be criminal charges?
BROOME: Well, you know, this has been a two-year - almost a two-year process in our community. I believe it could have been settled a long time ago. I would encourage my community, first and foremost, that we implement policies and changes to take place that can certainly impact systems because that is what we are dealing with. It's important that people vote. That is - and stay engaged in the process. As mayor and the leader of this city, I am going to implore the faith-based community to take more of a leadership stand because what we're dealing with is is, in many instances, would be the hearts of individuals. And we must invest in disinvested communities.
And I would take it even farther. We must invest in humanity, in the lives of individuals in our community. What happened to Alton Sterling was a tragedy. It was - it was extremely disturbing and alarming. And we must - as we look at the civil rights movement, the anniversary this year, we don't want to go backwards. We want to move forward and be progressive in our policies and in our actions.
SIMON: But if I just follow up, and we're running out of time, Mayor Broome, no - what do you say to people who say, look, nothing would be a better example than criminal charges?
BROOME: Well, that was in the sphere for the attorney general, our state attorney general. And so we've gone through the process. You know, our district attorney recused himself. Then it went to the Department of Justice. Then it went to our state attorney general, who did not file criminal charges. And so the last part of this process was with the administrative policies within the Baton Rouge Police Department with, to his credit, our chief of police, Murphy Paul, did act on.
SIMON: Mayor Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, thanks so much for being with us.
BROOME: Thank you.
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