Five years after his viral murder, Baton Rouge city council members voted Wednesday to approve a $4.5 million settlement for the family of Alton Sterling.
Council members voted 7-4 in favor of approving the measure after a lengthy back and forth regarding the settlement amount. The vote also comes weeks before the start of a trial in the wrongful death lawsuit, slated to begin in March. If Sterling’s family rejects the offer, the lawsuit will continue.
To date the family has not yet commented on their position.
As part of the settlement, his children will receive $1 million, followed by annual $875,000 payments over the next four years. The settlement ,money come from the city’s Insurance Reserve Fund, which as of late January, contained roughly $17.7 million in available assets, according to U.S. News and World Report.
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.
— Sharon Weston Broome (@MayorBroome) February 11, 2021
“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 Weston Broome tweeted after the announcement.
Sterling’s death came just one day before the brutal murder of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot thousands of miles away by a Minnesota police officer. Sterling was approached by officers while he sold homemade CD’s in front of a local convenience store. Similar to the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a physical confrontation ensued, which resulted in Sterling’s death.
Their deaths helped fuel the call of Black Lives Matter protests which began around the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
The settlement is just one fraction of justice for Sterling’s family who filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city in 2017. The suit alleged the shooting fell into a pattern of racist behavior and excessive force by police. Alton’s children went forward with seeking legal retribution one month after the Justice Department declined to press charges against former Officer Blane Salamoni, who fired the fatal shots, or Officer Howie Lake II, who used a stun gun and helped Salamoni wrestle Sterling to the ground.
However, the road to finding closure on Wednesday was riddled with a series of pit stops.
In November city council members rejected a settlement offer of $5M from an outside mediator. Week’s later his family declined a $2.5M settlement offer, which was half the amount.