The East Baton Rouge Metro Council on Wednesday voted to offer a $4.5 million settlement to the family of Alton Sterling almost five years after the 37-year-old Black man was shot multiple times at point-blank range by a Baton Rouge police officer.
The recent offer was approved after the council voted 7-4 in favor of it, ABC News reported. This comes after officials initially rejected a $5 million proposed settlement in November 2020 following the inability of the 12-member council to get the required majority votes that were needed for it to be approved.
“I am pleased our metro council was able to find a consensus and approve an offer of settlement in the Alton Sterling civil case. After nearly five years, the people of Baton Rouge are finally one step closer to getting much needed closure in this traumatic episode in our history,” Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Now we must continue the work of building a more fair and equitable community, where every citizen is treated justly, no matter their race or ethnicity,” she added.
Sterling was fatally shot in front of a convenience store on July 5, 2016, during a scuffle with two Baton Rouge police officers. The officers – Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II – were responding to the scene after someone called 911 claiming to have been threatened with a gun by a Black man selling CDs in front of the store.
During the confrontation, a mobile phone video recording of the incident showed the officers holding Sterling down at a certain point, with 6 shots later fired. Salamoni, who discharged the shots, reportedly yelled Sterling was armed and reaching for his weapon before opening fire.
Sterling’s death sparked days of protests against police use of excessive force on Black people. Salamoni was fired in 2018 after it was established he used excessive force.
The settlement offer comes after Sterling’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, with the trial scheduled to begin in three weeks’ time, according to the Associated Press. Should his family and their attorneys reject the settlement, the trial will go ahead.