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Gerald Herbert
FILE - In this June 27, 2017 photo, Ronald Smith gets on his bicycle after stopping at the Triple S Food Mart, where Alton Sterling was shot by police one year ago, in Baton Rouge, La. Louisiana's attorney general plans to meet Tuesday, March 27, 2018, with relatives of Sterling, a black man who was shot and killed by a white Baton Rouge police officer, to inform them whether his office will charge either of the two officers involved in the deadly struggle, according to two family lawyers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's attorney general ruled out criminal charges Tuesday against two white Baton Rouge police officers in the fatal shooting of a black man during a struggle outside a convenience store nearly two years after his death caused widespread protests.

Attorney General Jeff Landry's decision came nearly 11 months after the Justice Department ruled out federal criminal charges in Alton Sterling's July 2016 death.

Officer Blane Salamoni shot and killed Sterling during a struggle outside a convenience store where the 37-year-old black man was selling homemade CDs. Officer Howie Lake II helped wrestle Sterling to the ground, but Lake didn't fire his gun. Two cellphone videos of the shooting quickly spread on social media, leading to large protests.

Landry made the announcement of no charges against the officers at a news conference after meeting with family members of Sterling. Relatives and their lawyers angrily denounced the decision.

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of one of Sterling's children, Cameron, said the officers killed Sterling "in cold blood."

"They took a human away. They took a father away," she said.

Landry said his office reviewed all of the evidence compiled by the Justice Department and also conducted its own interviews of eyewitnesses.

"I know the Sterling family is hurting," Landry told reporters. "I know that they may not agree with the decision."

Toxicology and urine test results released Tuesday showed Sterling had cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and other drugs in his system at the time of the confrontation. Landry said it was "reasonable" to conclude Sterling was under the influence of drugs during the struggle with the officers "and that contributed to his non-compliance" with the officers' commands.

Landry did not take any questions from reporters.

A lawyer for two of Sterling's five children slammed the report as biased. L. Chris Stewart said investigators did not follow up with witnesses and relied heavily on the two federal investigators who already looked into the case. He also criticized the decision to put Sterling's criminal history into the report, which he said had nothing to do with the case.

The officers' body cameras and a store surveillance camera also recorded the encounter. Those videos have not been released, but Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said he intends to release both after he concludes the disciplinary process for the two officers, who have remained on paid administrative leave since the July 5, 2016, shooting.

Paul said he hopes to complete the disciplinary process by Friday. Salamoni's attorney, John McLindon, said he expects Paul to fire his client and called it "grossly unfair" that the chief plans to hold a disciplinary hearing less than a week after the end of the criminal investigation.

"I believe it's a foregone conclusion," McLindon said. "The decision has already been made."

Residents at the convenience store where Sterling was killed said they weren't surprised by Landry's decision. Le'Roi Dunn, a 40-year-old cook, gestured at the spot where Sterling was killed and said it was wrong for the officers to avoid any charges.

"It hurts, though, to see them get away and go on with their lives," Dunn said.

Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation immediately after the shooting and released their findings in May 2017. They said Salamoni yelled that Sterling was reaching for a gun in his pocket before shooting him three times, and then fired three more shots into Sterling's back when he began to sit up and move.

The officers recovered a loaded revolver from Sterling's pocket. As a convicted felon, Sterling could not legally carry a gun.

Federal authorities concluded there wasn't enough evidence to prove Salamoni or Lake willfully deprived Sterling of his civil rights, or that the officers' use of force was objectively unreasonable.

The officers first encountered Sterling after responding to a report of a man with a gun outside the Triple S Food Mart. The officers told Sterling to put his hands on the hood of a car and struggled with him when he didn't comply, the Justice Department said. Lake shocked Sterling with a stun gun before the officers wrestled him to the ground, according to federal investigators.

Attorneys for Sterling's relatives have said federal authorities told them Salamoni pointed a gun at Sterling's head and threatened to kill him before the struggle began. In a summary of its findings, the Justice Department said Salamoni pointed his gun at Sterling's head but didn't mention any verbal threats by the officer.

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The shooting came amid increased scrutiny of fatal encounters between police and black men. The next day Philando Castile was shot and killed in Minnesota by police officer and the aftermath was streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend. The same week, five police officers were killed in Dallas during a protest against police shootings.

Racial tensions were still simmering in Louisiana's capital when a 29-year-old black military veteran shot and killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers on July 17, 2016.

Last year, lawyers for Sterling's five children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Baton Rouge, its police department and former police chief, and the two officers involved. Their suit alleges the shooting fit a pattern of racist behavior and excessive force by the Baton Rouge police.