DOJ investigation may be over, but Alton Sterling case is not

Jacqueline Quynh talks about what's next for the Alton Sterling case.

NEW ORLEANS -- After a lengthy review by the US Department of Justice, the federal agency announced they will not file charges against the two officers involved.

"There simply is not sufficient evidence to proceed with a federal charge," said Corey Amundson, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana

What happens next is in the hands of the State of Louisiana.

"The federal government has laid the case out for the attorney general, so we encourage Attorney General Landry just to do the right thing," said Michael Adams, Sterling's Children's Attorney.

MORE: DOJ: Not enough evidence to prosecute; Family: State should prosecute

Even though the two agencies will use the same evidence, the outcome of their investigations could be different.

"So, at the state level the attorney general will probably be looking at manslaughter, and negligent homicide, as opposed to one of these specific intent crimes such as the federal crime was," said Pauline Hardin, Eyewitness News' legal analyst and a lawyer with 30 years criminal litigation experience currently with the Jones Walker Law Firm.

No doubt video will be key in the state's investigation.

"Well, you could not see Mr. Sterling's right hand which is where the gun was so I'm sure they wish it was clearer from the perspective, but they did have audio on the tape where the officer was saying he's got a gun," Hardin said.

Interestingly Sterling's family lawyers say there's video with sound in it that the public has never heard.

"And from that enhanced audio you heard the words of this officer who walked out to this gentlemen put a gun to his head and said bitch I'm going to kill you," Adams said.

MORE: Statistics: Police officers hardly ever convicted for deadly use of force

Now, if the state takes the case to court, then the jury that hears the case will be composed of 12 people, 10 of the 12 will have to agree to a verdict, versus in a federal system where all 12 have to agree.  This is assuming the state brings forward either a manslaughter or negligent homicide charge. 

"At a minimum, these officers ought to be disciplined and fired," Adams said.

Outside of a state case, Sterling's family could launch a civil suit and seek damages against the police officers, and the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The state investigation is now underway.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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