The East Baton Rouge, La., District Attorney, citing a conflict of interests, has chosen to distance himself from the federal investigation into the shooting of a man who was killed by police last week.
Hillar C. Moore III announced at a Monday press conference that he will recuse himself from the case and request another prosecutor to take his place. He said he made his decision due to his relationship with the parents of Baton Rouge police officer Blane Salomoni, who was one of the two officers attempting to arrest Alton Sterling as he sold CDs outside of a convenience store when the shooting took place.
Both of Salomoni’s parents have worked with the Baton Rouge Police Department and have had a long professional relationship with Moore, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported.
“There can be no denying that there are real issues of trust in our community,” said Moore at a Monday press conference. “These issues have been evident well before this past week. We have worked on these issues for years, we will continue to work.”
The Department of Justice announced an investigation into the death of Sterling shortly after a viral video circulated of Salomoni and fellow officer Howie Lake II confronting him, resulting in his shooting death. After their investigation, the agency will determine if federal charges will be levied at one or both of the officers, or if civil rights violations took place.
The violence of Sterling’s shooting, and another police shooting of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., the next day touched off nationwide protests. One in Dallas ended in the shooting deaths of five police officers and the wounding of 12 others.