Attorneys for Alton Sterling's children sent a letter Wednesday to Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie demanding that the two officers involved in Sterling's fatal shooting last July be fired. Hours later, Broome joined the family in the call for discipline, agreeing that one of the officers, Blane Salamoni, be terminated.
"I believe they should be removed from paid administrative leave and disciplined consistent with the severity of their actions. In Officer Salamoni’s case, this warrants termination," Broome wrote in reply to the Sterling family.
She said she will be personally calling on Dabadie to do just that, which is the latest sign she is trying to further distance herself from the police chief.
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"While I do not have the direct authority to terminate these officers, Chief Dabadie does," Broome's letter says. "I understand and respect the need for fairness and due process, but the process has gotten us here."
In the Sterling family's letter, the attorneys accuse Salamoni and Officer Howie Lake II of violating BRPD policies and practices in their interactions with Sterling the night of his death. The attorneys and community activists have said the U.S. Department of Justice revealed in closed-door meetings that Salamoni, within seconds of arriving at the scene, put a gun to Sterling's head and used obscenities while threatening to kill him.
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"Of major concern is that the department has known about Officer Salamoni's behavior since the night of the incident and did not take any action to terminate his employment," the family's letter says.
Salamoni and Lake are currently on paid administrative leave because, BRPD officials say, their internal investigation remains ongoing. After they were not charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for civil rights violations in late March, their case was handed to the state's attorney general office for an investigation into possible criminal charges.
"The current investigation being conducted by Attorney General (Jeff) Landry is not related to whether or not Officer Salamoni keeps his job and is fit to be a member of the BRPD," the family's letter says.
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Dabadie has said previously he will continue to wait for the criminal case's outcome.
"We have to wait and let the legal system play out, let the criminal aspect play out before we decide anything internally,” Dabadie said last week.
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BRPD spokesman Lt. Jonny Dunnam echoed Dabadie after hearing about the lawyers' letter Wednesday.
"He's going to wait for the criminal investigation to conclude," Dunnam said, adding that the state's criminal investigation will be more thorough than their internal investigation. "He'd want to have all the information available to him (before making any decision)."
Following Broome's response late Wednesday, Dunnam said his department will wait to read her letter before commenting. Broome said she plans to "hand-deliver" her letter to Dabadie.