BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The way the news leaked about the Department of Justice's decision in the Alton Sterling case is not sitting well with many local lawmakers.
As reports first began emerging from the Washington Post and other national outlets Tuesday afternoon that the DOJ would not be pursuing charges against the officers, state legislators said they were "disappointed" the Sterling family did not get word first.
"I think that family deserved the respect to have a sit-down meeting explanation before they had to find out via an alert on their cell phones," said Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge.
James and others admitted they were not shocked by the reported decision from the DOJ, just by how the word first got out.
"To have something like this leak and you find it out in the paper is just not the right way to treat people," said Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge.
"That's contrary to what they told the family, that's contrary to what they told other elected officials here in Baton Rouge," said Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge.
With crowds already rallying Tuesday evening in response to the news reports, leaders called on people to keep the peace, reminding them that the overall investigation is not over. The Louisiana Attorney General will now get the case and could pursue state charges, including manslaughter or murder.
"I will hope that he gives this his full attention. I know how sensitive this is. This is an issue that deserves a thorough investigation. It deserves him to look at everything from the federal government with a fresh eye," said James.
In the meantime, Smith said they have recognized the public's frustrations and have made efforts to create change politically. She pointed to recent efforts to change police policies at the state and local level. She also noted the recent decision by the EBR Metro Council to purchase body cams for the Baton Rouge Police Department.
"Hopefully folks will look at those positive things as well that are taking place," said Smith.