Baton Rouge prosecutors this week ruled out criminal charges after allowing the statute of limitations to expire against several protesters and journalists who are suing over their July 2016 arrests following the deadly police shooting of Alton Sterling.

The East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office sent notice Wednesday to federal prosecutors that it would not pursue criminal cases against any of the 11 protesters and two journalists involved in the lawsuit. All of them were arrested two years ago on misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and obstruction of a highway or public passage. Prosecutors must file charges for misdemeanors within two years of the arrest or summons.

“It was decided that after the expiration of the prescriptive period, the cases will be refused by our office due to police action being sufficient,” the District Attorney’s Office wrote in a news release. The admission came after a federal judge requested the status for the plaintiffs’ cases involved in the suit. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III had previously announced that eight of the protesters involved would not be charged, but had made no determination for the remaining seven. 

“The DA's decision to refuse charges for all fifteen protesters or journalists in this case reinforces what our clients have known all along: that their arrests were illegal and unconstitutional,” said attorney William Most, who is representing the 13 plaintiffs in the case. “Our clients are fighting to make law enforcement comply with the Constitution.”

With the update from prosecutors, a federal judge on Friday denied a request from the Louisiana State Police to dismiss the case, allowing it instead to move forward. However, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, the current and former superintendent for State Police and some of the officers named in the lawsuit have also filed motions to dismiss, all of which are still pending.

The lawsuit, which was filed in July 2017, alleges that the arrests of the protesters and journalists violated their first amendment rights and were executed using excessive force. It includes protester Blair Imani, who later helped plan a vigil for officers killed in the ambush on law enforcement on July 17, leaving three officers dead and two wounded, as well as journalists Karen Savage, who was there reporting for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, and Cherri Foytlin, who was reporting for the Bridge the Gulf Project.

The 13 involved in this lawsuit were among nearly 50 arrested at the end of a peaceful protest July 10, 2016, which later turned violent during a standoff between protesters and police outfitted in riot gear. The demonstration came days after a white Baton Rouge police officer fatally shot Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, outside a convenience store on North Foster Drive.Part of the deadly encounter was captured on cellphone video and shared widely on social media, sparking national protesting.

In Baton Rouge, police arrested nearly 200 protesters over the multiple days of protests across the city following Sterling’s death. Moore’s office declined charges early on for those arrested only on obstruction of a highway. Following a lawsuit over those cases, the city and other defendants agreed in 2016 to a settlement for those protesters only arrested for obstructing a highway. The deal called for $500 cash payments to up to 90 protesters.

Moore said Friday that he mainly filed charges against protesters who were arrested on felonies, often including gun violations or violence. He said many other cases have been settled through agreements or also reached their statute of limitation.

“I believe the way my office handled the different types of defendants and charges under the totality of circumstances was appropriate,” Moore said.

Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.