BALDWIN, La. (WAFB) - More criticism has come as investigators and attorneys try to make sense of the hours before the death of Quawan Charles in rural Louisiana.
Family attorneys now say Louisiana State Police (LSP) troopers may have failed to follow a protocol to alert members of the media about the teen’s disappearance.
At the center of the issue is the Amber Alert, a child abduction emergency tool used by law enforcement.
Louisiana State Police is responsible for approving those alerts for missing juvenile cases based on certain criteria.
A Baldwin Police Department source told WAFB Monday, Nov. 16 an Amber Alert could not be issued in Charles' case after the teen was reported missing by family. That’s because a lack of evidence that the teen was abducted meant it failed to meet the criteria, the source said.
Later Monday, attorneys representing the teen’s family came forward with new allegations that the Baldwin Police Department did still try to request the Amber Alert, despite statements allegedly made by an LSP spokesman to Associated Press reporters.
In a report from the Associated Press, the spokesman said the agency was never asked to send out the alert.
“According to the Baldwin Police Department, they were informed by State Police that Quawan’s disappearance did not meet the threshold to trigger an AMBER Alert,” wrote Charles' family’s attorneys in a statement.
The source of the discrepancy was not immediately clear.
In that same statement, the attorneys claim that even without the Amber Alert LSP has a protocol in place that would have still classified Charles' case under an “Endangered/Missing Child Advisory action plan."
That would have led to notification about the teen’s disappearance being sent to members of the press, the attorneys claim.
“As far as we can tell, that never happened,” the attorneys wrote. “Had this been done, perhaps Quawan would still be alive today.”
The attorneys also allege the teen’s cell phone was not tracked for several days despite the law enforcement agencies having the legal authority to do so, according to their own legal analysis.
“If these steps had been properly taken, Quawan’s life may have been saved,” the attorneys wrote.
Other news about the case released Monday includes findings from an independent autopsy ordered by the family.
A family attorney said the autopsy listed drowning as a possible factor in the 15-year-old’s death.
That determination falls in line with findings released by a coroner’s office that suggested the same. Those findings are treated as preliminary. An official cause of death could take weeks to determine, investigators say.
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