BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's one of the best kept secrets in Baton Rouge right now: When will the federal decision in the Alton Sterling police shooting case be made public?
Citing a policy against commenting on "pending investigations," the Department of Justice (DOJ) has refused to comment on any possible timeline for a decision to be announced.
In similar investigations in the past, it has been customary for the DOJ to meet with family members connected to the case before making the decision public. A spokesman for the law firm representing the Sterling family said as of late Monday afternoon, they have not been contacted by the DOJ for a meeting with the Sterling family and have not been given a timeline for a decision.
Local police departments have ramped up preparation efforts for any possible protests related to the decision, but no one within law enforcement contacted by WAFB-TV Monday claimed to have been given any indication from the DOJ about when that decision would come down.
A spokesman for Governor John Bel Edwards said late Monday the governor has also not been given any word.
U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond called on the DOJ last week to keep the community better informed about a timeline for the decision. A spokesman for Richmond said Monday their office has not received any response from the DOJ.
Former Baton Rouge metro councilman John Delgado said last week that multiple people close to the situation told him the decision would be announced on or before Tuesday, May 2. Delgado is currently a lobbyist for the Baton Rouge Union of Police and stressed that he was not speaking on behalf of that organization.
BRPD spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola said last week that his department is preparing. "We have not been formally informed, we're just working off the same rumors everyone else is hearing," he said. "We have had meetings and will continue to meet to prepare for the decision."
Sterling, 37, was shot by a BRPD officer last July after two officers were called to a convenience store to look into a report that a man with a gun had just threatened another man outside the store. The officers and Sterling struggled and at one point, all three were on the ground when shots were fired by one of the officers. At least one of several pieces of footage that captured portions of the shooting appears to show an officer remove a gun from Sterling's pocket after he was shot.
The federal government is being asked to decide if either of the two officers violated Sterling's civil rights. Regardless of what the federal decision is, the case will next head to the Louisiana Attorney General's Office to determine if the officers should face any state charges. One example of a state charge is manslaughter.