The Baton Rouge police chief said a white police officer who shot and killed Alton Sterling shortly after the cop accosted the man for selling homemade CDs outside a convenience store three years ago “should have never been hired.”
“We’re sorry, Baton Rouge,” Chief Murphy Paul said during a news conference Thursday. “I want to apologize to the family of Alton Sterling and also to his kids.”
Officials announced at the recent press conference that Blane Salamoni, who was fired in March 2018 for his role in Sterling’s death, was allowed to undo the termination and resign instead as part of an agreement.
Body-camera video released last year shows a policeman later identified as Salamoni threatening to shoot Sterling, cursing at him, ordering a Taser be used on him and firing the fatal shots July 5, 2016.
The incident sparked protests across the nation.
Attorney Leo Hamilton, who represented the police department in coming to an agreement with Salamoni, said he did not receive any back pay or financial compensation and dismissed his claims against the police department.
Hamilton also said at the press conference that Salamoni had a prior arrest on his record related to a domestic incident, which he didn’t disclose when he applied to the Baton Rouge Police Department.
“Mr. Salamoni’s ill temperament and disregard of rules was evident before his employment with BRPD,” Hamilton said.
Tommy Dewey, Salamoni’s attorney, rebutted Hamilton’s claim that Salamoni didn’t disclose his prior arrest Friday in a statement on behalf of the union supporting Salamoni.
“Blane Salamoni fully disclosed his past during his interview process, which resulted in a 7-0 unanimous decision to hire him,” Dewey said in the statement WAFB obtained. “Blaine Salamoni finished 1 st overall in his academy class and successfully completed the FTO program.”
Dewey said his client was “very offended” by the police chief’s remarks.
Chief Paul went on to say Thursday:
“Our past requires that we see this Alton Sterling incident not as an isolated one, but what it truly represents. It’s an example of a well documented pattern of behavior by a man who should have never ever worn this uniform. Period. We have to call it for what it is. We have some who believe that Salamoni’s behavior was acceptable because he encountered an armed individual. There’s a reason we train officers on how to respond to certain situations and it’s our job to make sure he’s behaving in the way he was trained.”
East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said in a statement released after the press conference that public servants should be held to a high standard from which “no one is exempt.”
She said she stands behind the city’s officers.
“However, our department no longer has room for individuals who can’t live up to its high standards or have shown a pattern of unprofessional behavior,” Broome said.