Hammered by Hurricane Ida, Baton Rouge government sure could use the millions of dollars it designated for, among others, an indicted child rapist. At least that’s what the federal government’s handling of the Capitol Police fatal shooting of an unarmed protester would indicate.
In 2016, former Metro officer Blane Salamoni shot to death Alton Sterling while the latter struggled against an attempted arrest by the former and another officer. Sterling possessed drugs, had ingested some, and appeared to be reaching for a concealed handgun, which triggered the decision to fire.
Numerous reviews, inside and outside of public safety agencies, determined that while Salamoni deployed tactics questionably that likely served to escalate rather than defuse the situation, his action to fire was reasonable. Nonetheless, the department pressured him successfully to resign, and Sterling relatives sued Baton Rouge for wrongful death, claiming improper training of the officers involved and too much racism tolerated in the department – the officers involved were white and Sterling was black – led to that outcome.
Sensibly, the Metro Council rejected an initial settlement offer of $5 million, but later caved in to a $4.5 million demand, with most coming directly out of taxpayers’ pockets. Yet in light of how the shooting early this year at the U.S. Capitol was handled, it might want to get its money back.
Then, Capitol Police Officer Michael Byrd, a black man, killed Ashlii Babbitt, an unarmed white woman, from behind as she tried to climb through an aperture in the building with other police around her. Yet the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Byrd, despite jurisprudence clearly establishing police officers should not shoot unarmed suspects or rioters without a clear threat to themselves or fellow officers, and he received no discipline from his agency that protects Congress under the jurisdiction of Democrats.
By this standard, applied to the Sterling incident Baton Rouge bears no responsibility whatsoever. However, it’s obviously naïve to expect it could retract the settlement and go to trial and expect vindication – and not just because leading politicians such as Democrat Mayor-President Sharon Broome long ago endorsed the settlement – for in this instance politics rather than justice is determining outcomes.
Despite essentially no evidence that the Jan. 6 unrest was organized to any degree, much less as an insurrection led by any prominent politician, Democrats have milked this allegation for all they could as revealing kind of authoritarian threat from the political right. As their controlled DOJ zealously prosecutes anybody even remotely involved as a means to keep this narrative in the spotlight to attempt to discredit Republican officeholders, with Democrats increasingly likely to suffer a massive blowout loss in 2022 elections, the DOJ continues to keep a hands-off approach to genuine and far more extensive and destructive rioting occurring across the country, to the point the National Association of Police Officers has called this effort politically motivated.
Keep in mind this other rioting driven by leftist elements found its inspiration in alleged but statistically disproven police misconduct against blacks, mirroring the narrative propagated about the Sterling case. Inconveniently for them, the Babbitt case appears more congruent with police misconduct against a white victim.
So, despite the facts on the ground and in the law pointing to the Babbitt case as one of impermissible police violence and not in the Sterling case, the exact opposite plays out in the judicial system. That’s never a good sign for the health of a polity when meting out justice, from state to national capital, has become politicized in this fashion.