JEFF LANDRY: My Statement On The DOJ’s Alton Sterling Decision

Editor’s Note: Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry released the following today after the Justice Department’s determination that no federal charges would be filed against Baton Rouge police officers Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake II in the shooting of Alton Sterling…

Today, the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) released its findings in the death of Alton Sterling. 

In the hours after this July 5, 2016 tragedy, state and local elected officials – as well as community leaders – requested an independent federal investigation by the USDOJ. That precluded state investigations until the federal investigation concluded.

At this time, and due to the nature of their investigation, my office has not been privy to any investigative materials created and collected by the USDOJ. Therefore, I cannot and will not comment on their findings beyond that they were made after an exhaustive investigation and a thorough review of the evidence.

The USDOJ’s review of this matter was to determine violations of federal law: specifically, federal civil rights laws. To date, this matter has not been investigated or reviewed for possible violations of the Louisiana Criminal Code. 

Therefore, this matter now needs to be investigated for possible state criminal violations. In order to ensure this matter is investigated by the agency with the most expertise in officer-involved shootings – I have directed the USDOJ to securely forward their investigative materials to the Louisiana State Police (LSP) to conduct the state investigation. And I have assigned a prosecutor from the Louisiana Department of Justice to assist.

LSP has a team of investigators who examine officer-involved shootings for Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments all over the State. They have investigated these types of matters on a routine basis, including their work in Marksville on a case we recently prosecuted against a former deputy marshal. There is no other unit in the State with more experience or more expertise in the use of lethal force by law enforcement agents. Had the USDOJ not been tasked to lead this investigation, there is no doubt LSP would have led the investigation.

It is important for the public to know that this matter will be handled by the most professional and proficient law enforcement use of force team in Louisiana. Once LSP and our assigned prosecutor have reviewed the materials generated by the federal government’s civil rights investigation and have conducted any further investigation necessary – my office will meet with them to review their findings, evaluate the evidence, and make the appropriate prosecutorial decision.

This matter was recused to our office for prosecution by the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney; and we will perform our duties in a timely, prudent, and judicious manner when that time comes. As of now, we consider this matter an open investigation by LSP; therefore, we will make no further comment. 

A thorough and complete investigation could take a considerable amount of time; as such, we ask for patience from the public and the press.

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