Officer Howie Lake II was allowed to return to work at the Baton Rouge Police Department Thursday after spending nearly two years awaiting the outcome of investigations into his role in the death of Alton Sterling.
After serving a three-day suspension that began Monday for his role in the death of Alton Sterling, 37, Lake was allowed to return to work Thursday, police officials said. Police Chief Murphy Paul has not said what position Lake will have, saying the officer, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting July 5, 2016, has to complete firearm and defensive training. It was not clear when he would complete the training.
Paul announced Friday that he was suspending Lake and firing Blane Salamoni, the other officer involved in Sterling's death. Paul said that Lake handled the situation more appropriately and suspended him for violating the department's policy on command of temper. He said that Lake tried to de-escalate the situation and that he did not violate the department's use of force policies.
Paul said that based on the department's internal affairs investigation, Salamoni violated policies on use of force and command of temper. Salamoni's termination as a Baton Rouge Police officer became effective that night, the chief said.
"We had two officers involved in one incident, the same incident with two different responses," Paul said.
He said his decision was not based on politics or emotion, but on "the facts of the case.”
Salamoni and Lake were attempting to arrest Sterling after a 911 call came in about a man selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart, a north Baton Rouge convenience store, who had threatened someone with a gun. Sterling matched the description and, after a brief struggle with the officers that lasted less than 90 seconds, he was shot six times by Salamoni. Officers found a loaded handgun in Sterling's pocket.
Salamoni was the officer who shot Sterling six times, killing him. Paul said that Salamoni, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting July 5, 2016, disregarded the department's "training and organizational standards." His termination became effective Friday.
Baton Rouge police released graphic new video Friday of the Alton Sterling shooting, including officer-worn body camera footage that offered a…
Kyle Kershaw, Lake's lawyer, said Friday that he and his client have not decided if they will appeal the suspension. However, he said he believes Lake acted in a way that should not have warranted any sanction.
"He didn't do anything wrong," Kershaw said, but noted that Lake was ready to get this behind him and return to work. "He wants to get back to his job," Kershaw said.
After nearly two years of investigations and a public outcry over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy…
Salamoni's lawyer, John McLindon, said they will appeal to the Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service Board.
The attorneys for Sterling's five children said last week that they applauded Paul's decision to fire Salamoni but that they would have also liked to see Lake fired.
Earlier last week, Attorney General Jeff Landry announced he would not pursue criminal charges against either officer. His office began its review of the incident after the U.S. Department of Justice announced in May they would not bring federal civil rights charges against the officers. The two subsequent investigations took nearly 20 months to complete
Both officers were put on paid leave after the shooting. Lake was paid more than $66,300 before his suspension, according to payroll documents The Advocate obtained through a public records request.
Salamoni was paid more than $70,200 before he was fired last week. Paul said the police department will not attempt to get reimbursed for any of those payments to Salamoni.
Nearly three months after the Alton Sterling shooting, Officer Blane Salamoni defended his decision to use deadly force, telling Baton Rouge p…
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul fired one officer and suspended another in connection to the Alton Sterling shooting on Friday after near…