The U.S. Attorney Says The Alton Sterling Investigation Isn’t On A Clock

You can probably cook up all kinds of fun theories of political intrigue about this if you want to, but the company line from the Department of Justice is they’ll be finished with the Sterling probe when they’re finished, and not before

The Justice Department doesn’t have a timetable for completing its investigation of a black man’s fatal shooting by police during an altercation with two white officers outside a Baton Rouge convenience store more than three months ago, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

Federal authorities have dedicated hundreds of hours to their investigation of Alton Sterling’s July 5 shooting and are “committed to taking all necessary steps to reach a just result based solely on the facts and the law,” U.S. Attorney Walt Green said in a written statement.

“The investigation remains ongoing, and will conclude only when we have gathered, reviewed and evaluated all available evidence,” Green said.

Green’s statement came after Rep. Ted James sent him a letter late last month grousing about what James and some of his constituents consider a slow pace to the investigation.

“He hasn’t indicated anything that the public doesn’t already know,” state Rep. Ted James, a Baton Rouge Democrat, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “There were promises made to the people of Baton Rouge and those promises have not been kept.”

In a letter to Green dated Sept. 29, James had asked the Justice Department to release some “basic information” about the investigation, including the names of people who have been interviewed by investigators and the number of federal agents assigned to the case.

James also called for the release of more “audio and video evidence.” In addition to cellphone video of the shooting, investigators also have police dashcam and bodycam video and store surveillance footage that hasn’t been made public.

What could be at issue with the camera footage is a rumor that one of the police officers involved in the Sterling shooting can be heard issuing a racial epithet at Sterling before he’s tackled. You’d think, though, that if this was true there would be a good deal of difficulty in keeping it quiet. Still, until the video comes out that rumor will have life and it will circulate, particularly in the black community.

And if the investigation wraps up with no recommendation of charges for the officers without that video being released, you will have further protests. That’s a given.

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