June 28 (UPI) -- The family of Alton Sterling, who a police officer shot to death in 2016, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Baton Rouge, La., their lawyer said.
The wrongful death suit seeks unspecified damages and accuses the city of inadequate police training. The three mothers of Sterling's five children are named as plaintiffs because the children are minors. The suit was brought against East Baton Rouge Parish, the Baton Rouge Police Department, Police Chief Carl Dabadie and two police officers involved in Sterling's death, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II.
Salamoni shot Sterling, 37, six times as Sterling sold homemade compact discs outside a Baton Rouge store on July 5, 2016. Salamoni said Sterling was reaching for a gun in his pocket when the shooting began. The shooting followed a struggle between Sterling and officers Salamoni and Lake.
The officers are white, and Sterling was an African American. The incident sparked several days of protest in the area. Federal investigators reviewed the shooting but did not prosecute the officers on civil rights charges, saying investigators could not prove the officers acted willfully and unreasonably. A criminal investigation by the state is underway.
The suit filed Wednesday says Salamoni's aggressive behavior in the incident is evidence of wrongdoing. It adds that the shooting is a demonstration of a larger issue of culture and training within the Baton Rouge police department. It also says Dabadie and the police department did not train officers in de-escalation tactics, and did not comply with a deferral consent decree to hire and train more African-American officers.