The Washington Post, along with the Associated Press, The New York Times, and CBS, are reporting the Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided not to bring charges against the Baton Rouge police officers involved in the death of Alton Sterling. WAFB has not been able to independently confirm the report.
The newspaper reports the DOJ plans to reveal in the next 24 hours that it has closed the probe, according to four people familiar with the matter.
CNN says they have heard the DOJ has not released a decision to anyone. Their statement reads:
The Department of Justice has not communicated to anyone a decision regarding the officers involved in the Alton Sterling case, DOJ PIO Sarah Izgur Flores told CNN. When there is a decision, the family will be notified first and then a then the DOJ will give a subsequent press conference.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Sterling family had yet to be informed by the Justice Department of the decision, and it is unclear how and when the department will announce its findings, the newspaper reported.
“We have not heard nor received an update and are unaware of any charges that may or may not be filed,“ the newspaper quoted Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the Sterling family’s attorneys. “We have not received word, nor has the family been given any notice of upcoming updates regarding this case."
The Baton Rouge police department has also released a statement saying, "We still don't have confirmation from the justice department on when they will release their findings."
The federal announcement will be a fairly simple one. They will be answering only one question: whether the officers involved will or will not face any federal criminal charges.
Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge police officer last July after two officers were called to a convenience store to investigate a report of a man threatening another man with a gun. One of several videos of the shooting appears to show one officer remove a gun from Sterling’s pocket immediately after the shooting.
If the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) finds there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers violated Sterling’s civil rights, they will announce what is called a “declination of charges”, meaning they are declining to pursue charges. On the other hand, if they have found such evidence, they will announce that the officers have been indicted on federal criminal civil rights charges. An indictment announcement would require that the evidence has already been put before a federal grand jury.
Regardless of the decision made on a federal level, the Sterling case will next go to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. That agency will be asked to determine whether the officers involved should face any state criminal charges. One example of a possible state criminal charge is manslaughter. State prosecutors say their investigation has not yet started because they will not receive evidence in the case from the feds until the federal probe is over.
The Governor's Office sent out a statement at 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, saying they have not been notified of a timeline or decision regarding the Alton Sterling investigation.
Mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome's office also released a statement Tuesday evening. The statement reads:
I am appalled that this news, whether true or false, has been disseminated without a formal decision being relayed to the Sterling family first. Also, no one in my office or the governor’s office has been notified by the U.S. Attorney’s office of a decision or timeline. I am still in consistent contact with the governor’s office. As I’ve said before, when I know something, the people of Baton Rouge will know — and we will get through it together.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a tweet:
In reference to recent media reports, there has been no official statement from the USDOJ. Our office will not comment until that time.— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) May 2, 2017
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