Photo: Joshua Lott (Getty Images)
Days after Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul admitted that Blane Salamoni, the police officer who shot and killed Alton Sterling in 2016, should never have been hired, a Louisiana judge has ordered the city of Baton Rouge to release a psychological evaluation used in Salamoni’s hiring.
The judge handed the decision down Monday; Sterling’s family attorneys told reporters the evaluation will show Salamoni should never have been hired, adding the city must be held responsible for doing so.
The decision came as new revelations—and a public apology from Baton Rouge’s top cop—have come out regarding Salamoni’s time on the force, including a 2014 complaint in which an emergency medical technician says he attempted to turn away first-responders coming to the aid of a shooting victim.
According to The Advocate, which cites the paramedic’s October 2014 report, “Officer Salamoni was rude, demeaning, unprofessional and provoking.”
“He displayed no regard for the human being lying dying in the roadway,” she continued. “Never have I felt so demoralized and treated with such contempt by anyone with BRPD.”
According to the report, an EMS worker said Baton Rouge police told emergency responders the victim had died, but they could check the patient if they wanted to. Stewart told reporters the EMS worker was referring to Salamoni.
A fellow emergency responder realized the man was breathing. Emergency responders found a pulse and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the patient, the report said.
The EMS worker said Salamoni yelled at her to “stop touching the patient” after he inquired about the victim’s gunshot wounds. The worker said Salamoni treated the victim “like a common thug, dog and me like a n***er.”
(It’s unclear what the paramedic’s racial background is—though if this person is white, it raises a whole new set of issues!)
Salamoni was also arrested for domestic abuse in 2009, according to The Advocate. And as The Washington Post writes, Baton Rouge police department lawyer Leo Hamilton said Salamoni “regularly used profanity and unnecessary force on the job, and that his officer colleagues had raised concerns about his behavior. In one instance, an altercation between Salamoni and another officer made a third officer uncomfortable enough that he said if something wasn’t done, Salamoni could ‘eventually kill someone.’”
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Police Chief Paul spoke at length on Thursday about Salamoni’s “well-documented pattern of unprofessional behavior, police violence, marginalization, polarization and implicit bias by a man who should have never, ever worn this uniform.”
“We’re sorry because he should have never been hired,” he said. “And while we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future, and I sincerely apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in building barriers in communities of color in Baton Rouge.”
Paul also apologized to Sterling’s family.
Salamoni had been hired—and retained—by Paul’s predecessors. Paul fired the officer in March 2018, shortly after being hired. Salamoni appealed the decision, leading to a settlement between him and the city last week in which the former officer’s firing was retracted. Salamoni resigned without backpay or compensation, the Post reports.
Salamoni shot and killed Sterling after he and another officer responded to a call that a man with a gun was at a convenience store. The 37-year-old Sterling had been selling DVDs at the front of the store, and was packing up his goods when he was approached by Officer Howie Lake. Salamoni arrived on the scene shortly after. As CNN reports, surveillance video showed Salamoni erupting after Sterling asked why police were trying to detain him.
“Don’t fucking move or I’ll shoot your fucking ass. Put your fucking hands on the car,” Salamoni told Sterling. Moments later, both Lake and Sterling were on top of Sterling on the ground. After someone shouted that Sterling had a gun (which was lodged in his pocket), Salamoni shot him in the chest.
Sterling’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against the city for retaining Salamoni, with attorney L. Chris Stewart calling his presence on the force “a case of nepotism.” According to Advocate, both Salamoni’s parents were high-ranking members of the Baton Rouge Police Department when he was brought on to the force, and for several years after. Both are now retired.