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Prosecutor In Alton Sterling Shooting Case Recuses Himself

The district attorney cited a personal relationship with one of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting for stepping aside.

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East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore announced Monday that he will recuse himself from the prosecution in the Alton Sterling case due to a personal relationship with the parents of one of the officers involved in the shooting.

"This is justice by doing what I'm doing," Moore said at a news conference.

In a report issued to coincide with the announcement, Moore detailed his relationship with Officer Blane Salamoni:

The only factor for the District Attorney in reaching this decision involves his relationship to the parents of officer Blane Salamoni.

As has been covered in the media, his parents are both experienced law enforcement professionals who have achieved senior leadership positions within the Baton Rouge Police Department. Their careers and their professional responsibilities have often overlapped and interacted directly with the District Attorney.

By example, Officer Blane Salamoni’s mother was the Violent Crime and Crime Scene Commander during most of the District Attorney’s term of office and interacted personally and professionally with the District Attorney in establishing the parish-wide Violent Crime Unit in 2010. Since 2009, they have worked together on more than 400 homicides that the District Attorney has personally responded to since taking office.

Officer Blane Salamoni’s father during this same period has commanded the department’s special operations unit and, in this capacity, has personally and alongside others in his unit provided the District Attorney, his family, and individuals on his staff with 24 hour security coverage when needed.

Moore noted that he has no direct connection to either Salamoni or Howie Lake II, the other officer involved in the Sterling shooting.

Early on July 5, Salamoni and Lake responded to a 911 call at the Triple S Food Mart of a man brandishing a gun and threatening someone in the parking lot. They encountered Sterling at the scene and fatally shot the 37-year-old after a struggle captured on two videos.

Salamoni fired all four shots, according to multiple reports.

Moore added that since the incident, he has been in contact with Justice Department officials letting them know that recusing himself was a possibility.

With Moore stepping aside, the Louisiana Attorney General's Office can either handle the case or assign it to another prosecutor’s office.

The FBI and federal prosecutors, meanwhile, continue to investigate the case for possible civil rights violations.

Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mike Hayes at mike@buzzfeed.com.

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