Blane Salamoni copy.jpg

Blane Salamoni

The Baton Rouge civil service board Thursday set a hearing for mid-April for former city police officer Blane Salamoni’s appeal of his firing after the July 2016 shooting death of Alton Sterling.

The board settled on hearing Salamoni’s case April 16-18 after several previous postponements.  The fired officer's hearing was originally scheduled for October before being moved to Dec. 20 and 21 and now, April. His new hearing date is scheduled more than a year after his firing last March and almost three years after Sterling’s death.

The location for Salamoni’s hearing has not yet been determined. Board members are weighing the importance of security and a neutral location to ensure fair proceedings, said Baton Rouge Police Department employee representative Cpl. Robb Moruzzi.

Moruzzi, who is booking the location and venue security for the hearing, said he plans to coordinate with an outside law enforcement agency, like the Louisiana State Police, for the hearing’s security. He said seeing uniformed BRPD officers providing security for the hearing could give the public an impression of bias.

In July 2016, Salamoni and fellow Baton Rouge Police officer Howie Lake II responded to a complaint a man selling CDs was seen brandishing a gun outside a convenience store on North Foster Drive. The officers attempted to arrest Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, who matched the description of the suspect.

A short struggle ensued and Salamoni shot Sterling six times. A loaded handgun was later recovered from Sterling’s pocket.

Lake, who did not fire his weapon, was suspended for three days for his role in the incident. Lake also appealed his sentence, and the civil service board Thursday voted to delay his hearing, originally scheduled for Jan. 17, until May.

The board on Thursday also agreed to hear former Baton Rouge Police officer Yuseff Hamadeh’s appeal of his dismissal on Jan. 17. Hamadeh was fired in October after he shot at a fleeing motorist during an August traffic stop.

Hamadeh claimed the motorist, 21-year-old Raheem Howard, fired first. But a Baton Rouge Police internal affairs investigation later found that Hamadeh was the only person to discharge a weapon, and no other weapon was ever recovered from the scene.

Hamadeh contends his rights were violated during the internal affairs investigation when officers refused him access to legal counsel during a polygraph examination and records of the examination were not maintained, the appeal stated. Both rights are guaranteed to all law enforcement officers under investigation.

The civil service board oversees the discipline process for police and fire personnel and has the authority to overturn disciplinary decisions.

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This story has been updated to correct the first name of the officer scheduled for an appeal hearing Jan. 21. It is spelled Yuseff, not Yussef.


Follow Katie Gagliano on Twitter, @katie_gagliano.