Upon review of the evidence, Landry said Salamoni and Lake reacted understandably considering the circumstances the officers were under at the time of the shooting.
Following the decision, celebrities including "A Wrinkle in Time" director Ava DuVernay and "Being Mary Jane" star Gabrielle Union took to Twitter to respond to the state of Louisiana's failure to press charges. 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.
After Alton Sterling was shot by police in 2016, his death spawned protests across the nation.
The Baton Rouge officers then encountered Sterling, 37, selling CDs outside of a convenience store, and fatally shot him during an encounter that lasted less than 90 seconds.
"Both officers reported that when they were on the ground, they saw Sterling's right hand in his pocket, with his hand on a gun", the Justice Department reported in announcing it would not prosecute them. It also claims poor training and inadequate police procedures led to Sterling's death. "We came to this conclusion after countless hours of reviewing the evidence", Landry said.
In a familiar story line with such cases, the officers say Sterling was reaching for his gun - a contention that witnesses dispute.
Salamoni fatally shot Sterling during an ensuing scuffle.
Racial tensions were still simmering in Louisiana's capital when Gavin Long, a 29-year-old black military veteran from Kansas City, Missouri, ambushed police officers near a vehicle wash on July 17, 2016.
Landry's office announced the decision Tuesday (March 27) after first notifying Sterling's relatives in person.
Civil rights activists have blamed the officers for escalating tensions during the arrest in a convenience store parking lot and turning it into a deadly encounter.
The U.S. Justice Department ruled out federal criminal charges in the case almost 11 months ago. Long killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers and wounded three others before being shot dead.
"The system failed us", Sandra Sterling, his aunt, said during a news conference. This was a family man. The attorney general also pointed to toxicology reports that Sterling was under the influence and subsequently noncompliant during his arrest.
It also follows a wrongful death lawsuit filed last June by lawyers for Sterling's five children against both officers, the police department, its chief, and the city of Baton Rouge.
An attorney for Lake could not be reached for comment.
"It hurts, though, to see them get away and go on with their lives", Dunn said. When he did not, a struggle ensued with Salamoni pulling out his gun and pointing it at Sterling's head and later Lake attempting to shoot Sterling with a Taser.
Some fatal shootings still prompt widespread media attention, including the death earlier this month of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man shot and killed by Sacramento police officers while in his grandmother's backyard.