Alton Sterling's family files wrongful death lawsuit against Baton Rouge city, police

BATON ROUGE, La., June 27 (Reuters) - The family of a black man killed last year by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and police on Tuesday, alleging a history of excessive-force incidents and racism toward African-Americans.

The death of Alton Sterling, 37, was among a series of racially charged police killings that inflamed a national debate over treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

The lawsuit, filed in state court on behalf of Sterling's five children, seeks unspecified damages from the city, Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. and his department, and the two officers involved in the shooting, among others.

"This is not about whether the officers should go to jail. It's about resolving this case for the children who no longer have a father because proper procedures weren't followed," L. Chris Stewart, one of the children's lawyers, said at a news conference.

RELATED: A look back at the Alton Sterling case: tributes, funeral and protests

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Alton Sterling shooting case -- tributes, funeral and protests
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Alton Sterling shooting case -- tributes, funeral and protests
Mourners pay their respects as they attend the funeral of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
BATON ROUGE, LA -JULY 06: protesters gather in front of a mural painted on the wall of the convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot and killed, July 6, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, July 5, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Na'Quincy, 10, son of Alton Sterling, looks back at his father's grave as he leaves Alton's burial, at the Mount Pilgrim Benevolent Society Cemetery with Na'Qunicy's grandmother (R), whose name was withheld in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gerald Herbert/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATHStill images from video show Alton Sterling as he is shot dead by police during an incident captured on the mobile phone camera of shop owner Abdullah Muflahi in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 5, 2016. Video taken July 5, 2016. Abdullah Muflahi/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TEMPLATE OUT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
BATON ROUGE, LA -JULY 06: Protesters block the intersection in front of the convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot and killed, July 6, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, July 5. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Pall bearers carry the casket of Alton Sterling to his gravesite at the Mount Pilgrim Benevolent Society Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gerald Herbert/Pool
Tia, a student, poses for a picture in front of a convenience store where Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pall bearers touch the casket of Alton Sterling after placing the casket at the internment site at the Mount Pilgrim Benevolent Society Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gerald Herbert/Pool
A woman holds a sign reading "No justice, no peace," as she protests the killing of Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Cameron Sterling is consoled after the funeral of his father Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A mourner is carried after the funeral of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
People take part in a protest against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march through Manhattan, with the Empire State Building seen in the background, in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
A trike hearse carrying the casket of Alton Sterling arrives for burial at the Mount Pilgrim Benevolent Society Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gerald Herbert/Pool
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Alton Sterling near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sandra Sterling, aunt of Alton Sterling, mourns as she attends the funeral of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
An inmate with the Louisiana Department of Corrections pays his respects during the funeral of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A demonstrator holds a bible at the Triple S convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot dead by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Demonstrators lock arms as they march from The White House to Capitol Hill on July 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. Protestors gathered in Washington to protest the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Curt Wechsler holds up a sign denouncing the killing of Philander Castile and Alton Sterling during a rally at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, California on July 08, 2016. About 1000 people showed support during a rally and march along Market Street denouncing recent police shootings around the country. The gunman who opened fire on Dallas officers during a protest against US police brutality, leaving five dead and seven others wounded, told negotiators he wanted to kill white cops, the city's police chief said July 8. / AFP / Josh Edelson (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UK - JULY 9: A protestor seen holding a placard with the words 'Black Lives Matter' at Windrush Square. Hundreds of Londoners convined in Brixton for a solidarity march following the shooting of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police in New Orleans and Minnesota respectively. The protest march on 9 July 2016 began at at Windrush Square in Brixton, South London. Todate about 509 people have been shot and killed by police in 2016 in America this year so far. (Photo by David Mbiyu/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Police spokesman Don Coppola and Janene Tate, a spokeswoman for Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Sterling was shot outside a convenience store on July 5, 2016, after a resident reported he had been threatened by a black man selling CDs. Police said Sterling was trying to pull a loaded gun out of his pocket when Officer Blane Salamoni opened fire.

The shooting prompted nationwide protests, including a demonstration two days later in Dallas at which five law enforcement officers were fatally shot by an African-American ex-serviceman.

Federal prosecutors declined to charge Salamoni and his partner, Howie Lake, in May, saying they lacked evidence to accuse them of civil rights violations. A state investigation is ongoing.

The 26-page lawsuit alleges that Salamoni and Lake breached protocol, used excessive force and violated Sterling's constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures and of due process.

RELATED: Protests after the Philando Castile, Alton Sterling shootings

23 PHOTOS
Protests after the Philando Castile, Alton Sterling shootings
See Gallery
Protests after the Philando Castile, Alton Sterling shootings
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: Police take security measures as people hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 7: People hold banners and chant slogans as they march from Union Square Park to Grand Central to protest the killing of 3 black men by police in 48 hours, in Manhattan, New York on July 7, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 07: Activists march along 42nd Street and 11th Avenue in response to the recent fatal shootings of two black men by police, July 7, 2016 in New York City. Protests and public outcry have grown in the days following the deaths of Alton Sterling on July 5, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile on July 6, 2016, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
Demonstators as they march through the city and call for justice for Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile as they rally on July 7, 2016 in New York. Black motorist Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot at close range by a Minnesota cop and seen bleeding to death in a graphic video shot by his girlfriend that went viral Thursday, the second fatal police shooting to rock America in as many days. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstators are arrested by the NYPD after they march through the city and call for justice for Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile in the middle of Times Square July 7, 2016 in New York. Black motorist Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot at close range by a Minnesota cop and seen bleeding to death in a graphic video shot by his girlfriend that went viral Thursday, the second fatal police shooting to rock America in as many days. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JULY 07: Protesters wave signs in front of the Triple S Mart on July 7, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather at the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 7, 2016, to protest the latest shooting of a black man by police in Falcon Heights, Minessota. Philando Castile, 32, a school cafeteria worker, was shot by police after being pulled over while driving. The incident was captured in a video viewed by some two million people Thursday, as civil rights investigators probed a similar incident in Louisiana. / AFP / Joy Powell (Photo credit should read JOY POWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a protest for the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march along Manhattan's streets in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People take part in a protest against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march through Times Square in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A woman chants out of the window of a bus as a group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A group of protesters demonstrate outside of a church during a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Berton Boreaux holds a sign on the hood of a bus as a group of protesters demonstrate near a prayer vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
People gather outside the Governor's residence to protest the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by Minneapolis area police during a traffic stop on Wednesday, in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S., July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Adam Bettcher
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At the time of the shooting, Baton Rouge police lacked written policies on the use of deadly force or on how to ease tense confrontations, the lawsuit said.

Baton Rouge also has a "longstanding pervasive policy of tolerating racist behavior by some of its officers," it said. Dabadie was aware of incidents that included racist-group texts in 2014 and 2017, the lawsuit added.

The litigation comes a day after the family of Philando Castile, a black motorist shot to death during a traffic stop in Minnesota last year, reached a $3 million settlement with the city of St. Anthony. (Additional reporting and writing by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Matthew Lewis)

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