It has been nearly two years since the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but it has only been a few weeks since it was decided that the two officers responsible would not be charged.
As it turns out, one of the two cops, Blane Salamoni, was just charged in an unrelated battery case. Sgt. Don Coppola, a spokesman for the police department, confirmed on Monday that Salamoni was issued a summons for the simple battery charge, although he couldn’t release any further details at the time.
According to News One, the offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The officer was allegedly outed by his own body camera footage, which showed him assaulting a handcuffed man less than a month before the shooting death of Sterling.
Salamoni was fired from the Baton Rouge Police Department in March of this year for violating procedures on use of force and “command of temper” in the Sterling case. He has been in the process of appealing his termination, which is what his attorney, Brant Mayer, said is fueling this battery situation.
“Blane just wants to clear his name,” Mayer said. “This is just one more thing Blane has to deal with before he puts this chapter behind him.”
Mayer also maintained that Salamoni spoke to his supervisor in 2016 immediately after the alleged battery incident and “there were no issues at that point.” The lawyer is now questioning why the department is suddenly bringing it back up in the middle of Salamoni’s appeal.
Forget about sabotaging Salamoni's appeal; the real issue here is that, if what Mayer claims is true, the department knew that Salamoni had an affinity for using unnecessary force before he ever encountered Sterling, yet they did nothing about it, leaving the door wide open for him to continue hurting people without consequence.
If they had investigated the battery incident more thoroughly at the time and took him out of the field while they reviewed his conduct, perhaps Sterling would still be alive today.
The department may be seeing the error of its ways now and trying to rid itself of officers like Salamoni for good, but it's a bit late in the game, considering Sterling's life was likely taken as a result of its negligence.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman