Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul on Thursday apologized to the family of Alton Sterling and the Baton Rouge community for how his department handled the hiring, training and investigation of Blane Salamoni, whom he fired for his role in the fatal shooting of Sterling in 2016.
Paul called Salamoni a "man who should have never, ever worn this uniform. Period."
Paul said that Salamoni did not disclose a prior arrest in an domestic abuse incident during his hiring process — an omission that should have prevented Salamoni from qualifying to be an officer.
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Salamoni was detained by police in July 2009 at Happy's Irish Pub in downtown Baton Rouge, according to incident reports that were released to The Advocate in a public records request.
An off-duty East Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputy had observed Salamoni yelling and shoving a female at the bar about 1 a.m., prompting the off-duty deputy to intervene and physically control him, the report says.
Officers were then called to the scene, who worked with the off-duty deputy to apprehend Salamoni, handcuffing him and bringing him to the police station. The woman involved told officers that she had been dating Salamoni, but they had broken up earlier that day. She said Salamoni came to the bar, started yelling at her and then shoved her several times.
Incident reports show that Salamoni was apprehended for simple battery.
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However, later that morning, the woman arrived at the police station, where she declined to press charges in the matter. Prosecutors did not go forward with the case, records show.
It's unclear if Salamoni was ever booked into jail or issued a misdemeanor summons in the incident.
The Advocate does not typically identify victims of domestic violence.
While Baton Rouge police officials say that Salamoni's arrest for the misdemeanor battery would not have necessarily precluded his hiring, Paul said the fact that he lied about his criminal history on his application would have made him an unsuitable candidate — had it been discovered then.
Paul announced Thursday morning that his department and Salamoni reached a settlement agreement in the former officer's disciplinary appeal for his termination in the Alton Sterling shooting.
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Paul said Salamoni's termination will be replaced with a formal resignation from the department, and in exchange the officer will withdraw his appeal to the local civil service board, which reviews discipline for Baton Rouge police and firefighters. The appeal hearing was scheduled for later this month but has now been canceled, allowing both Paul and Salamoni — along with the entire Baton Rouge community — to avoid once again rehashing the events of July 5, 2016.
Salamoni will not receive back pay.
Paul said the deal will "ensure (Salamoni) will never be policing the streets of Baton Rouge again."
Salamoni was an officer for five years at the Baton Rouge Police department before he was placed on paid administrative leave for his role in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling. Part of that struggle between Sterling and officers Howie Lake and Salamoni, that ended when Salamoni fired six shots at Sterling, was was captured on cell phone videos and shared on social media, sparking protests nationwide about police brutality.