Louisiana’s attorney general has bias and political conflicts of interest that strongly suggest that the pursuit of justice for Alton Sterling is at a dead end.
About 35 civil rights activists held a sit-in on Monday afternoon at Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office to demand that he appoint a special prosecutor to review Sterling’s case, in the hope that a grand jury will deliver an indictment against the officer who killed him, the The Advocate reported.
Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man and father of five, was shot and killed in 2016 by a White police officer. On March 27, Landry declined to charge ex-Officer Blane Salamoni, who shot Sterling, or a second officer who was involved in the incident.
The demands on the attorney general will surely fall on deaf ears. Landry, a former congressman who’s in his first term as state attorney general, has personal reasons for making the case go away.
He’s “an ambitious Republican” who “has embraced President Donald Trump,” according to The Times-Picayune. His name routinely comes up as a possible GOP candidate to run against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2019. Accordingly, prosecuting the officers could hurt his chances of winning the party’s nomination to compete for governor.
Landry, as a law and order conservative, is also a former police officer and deputy sheriff in Louisiana’s St. Martin Parish. In his view, police officers have been “under attack,” Landry told The Times-Picayune’s editorial board. He clearly sympathizes with the officer who killed Sterling.
The demonstrators, led by the state’s NAACP president Michael McClanahan, vow to continue their lunchtime sit-ins at Landry’s office until the attorney general yields to their demands for “some accountability on the part of the state,” according to The Advocate.
“We’re here to tell Jeff Landry … he has a duty to oversee that this process is transparent, and we want to hold him to it,” McClanahan added.