BATON ROUGE, La. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the fatal police shooting of a black man in Louisiana's capital, the state's governor said on Thursday, as two deadly encounters between law enforcement and black men in the United States triggered protests.
The probe comes as community leaders in Baton Rouge urged authorities to conduct a full-scale criminal probe of two white police officers over the slaying of Alton Sterling, 37, two days ago.
"I want you to know that a criminal investigation is under way. It is being led by the U.S. Department of Justice," Louisiana governor Jon Bel Edwards told a gathering at a church on Thursday evening.
"We are going to come out of this tragedy stronger and more united than ever," he added.
The 300-pound (136-kg) Sterling was pinned to the ground and fatally shot in the chest outside a convenience store after the officers responded to what police said was a call about a black man reported to have made threats with a gun.
The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday said it would conduct a civil rights investigation into Sterling's killing. The city's mayor and police chief welcomed the move, but community leaders said they worried the probe would be too limited.
Representatives from the community organization Together Baton Rouge urged authorities to consider all possible federal and state criminal charges against officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake.
"We don't want this to be a narrow investigation," Edgar Cage, a spokesman for the group, said at a Baton Rouge church earlier on Thursday. "We plan to use this tragic event as a tool, a stimulant to change the culture."
(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien and Bryn Stole; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman)
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Updated Date: Jul 08, 2016 06:46 AM