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Attorneys of Quawan Charles family release statement on why an Amber Alert was not issued

quawan charles_redbackground.jpg
Posted at 7:45 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 20:48:37-05

BALDWIN, La. — The attorneys representing the family of Quawan Charles released a statement on Monday questioning why an Amber Alert was not issued by the Louisiana State Police when the Baldwin teen was reported missing on Oct. 30.

According to a release from attorneys Ronald Haley and Chase Trichell, an Associated Press report from Friday is cited that states, “Louisiana State Police, who issue such [AMBER] alerts, were not asked to do so and are not part of the investigation into Charles’ death, Lt. Nick Manale, a state police spokesman, said in an email Thursday.”

The attorneys then state that through their own independent investigation, they have learned that the Baldwin Police Department—based on its own assertions—did in fact notify LSP of Quawan “Bobby” Charles’ disappearance from Baldwin on Oct. 30, 2020.

"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," they state in the release. "So, what is the protocol in that scenario?"

The release then cites a portion of a Q & A section about Amber Alerts titled "WHAT IF THE CASE DOES NOT MEET CRITERIA?" on the LSP website:

If the current case does not meet Louisiana's criteria, there is a Level II action plan called an Endangered/Missing Child Advisory. Louisiana State Police can take the available information from the requesting law enforcement agency and forward that information to all media statewide from the agency's current statewide media contact list. The requesting law enforcement agency and its telephone number will be listed as the contact for the public. A Level II – Endangered/Missing Child Advisory may be upgraded at a later time if the facts of the case warrant. The Level II – Endangered/Missing Child Advisory does not utilize the Emergency Alert System and will not interrupt programming.

Louisiana Level II - Endangered/Missing Child Advisory - for cases that do not currently meet AMBER Alert criteria

"While Quawan’s disappearance may not have met the criteria for an AMBER Alert in the opinion of State Police, his case would still be designated Level II, which would initiate the “Endangered/Missing Child Advisory” action plan," the release states. "If LSP followed its own promulgated protocol, the below form would have been completed and disseminated 'to all media statewide from the […] statewide media contact list.'”

The attorneys add that, as far as they can tell, that never happened.

"Louisiana State Police never utilized its own 'Louisiana Level II – Media Advisory' form in response to Quawan “Bobby” Charles’ disappearance from his home in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana," the release states. "Had this been done, perhaps Quawan would still be alive today. Other measures could have also been taken, or taken sooner."

The release says that according to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Charles' body was found in Loreauville, on the night of Nov. 3, after his cell phone was pinged on Nov. 2."

"Pursuant to In re Application of the United States for Historical Cell Site Data, 724 F.3d 600 (5th Cir. 2013), law enforcement does not need a warrant to ping a cell phone," the attorneys write. "Which begs the question: Why did the Baldwin Police Department and/or Louisiana State Police choose to not ping Quawan’s cell phone for three full days?"

According to the release, the parish coroner has not provided a time of death for Charles.

"But we now know that—according to the Baldwin Police Department—Louisiana State Police knew of Quawan’s disappearance and did not activate the Louisiana Level II – Media Advisory plan," the attorneys state. "We also know that—despite the legal authority to do so— no law enforcement agency pinged Quawan’s cell phone on October 30th , October 31st, or November 1st . If these steps had been properly taken, Quawan’s life may have been saved."

The statement is signed by Haley, Trichell, Dedrick Moore & Ryan Thompson along with Stand Black.

LSP have told KATC that they weren't notified about the case, and it's an agency's decision if the missing person meets the criteria for an Amber Alert. Among the criteria, officers must believe the missing person is in danger and have specific information about the alleged abduction and their vehicle.

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