This month, as Baton Rouge officials took another step toward resolving the aftermath of a controversial police shooting three summers ago, law enforcement officers in nearby West Baton Rouge Parish confronted similar questions about a July 25 police shooting that left one man dead.
The Baton Rouge community learned some painful lessons when Alton Sterling died in 2016. We hope those lessons aren’t lost on leaders and the larger community in West Baton Rouge Parish as they navigate the investigation of a police shooting that claimed the life of Josef Richardson during a drug raid last month at a motel near Port Allen.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul on Thursday apologized to the family of Alton Sterling and the Baton Rouge community for how his departme…
Sterling, an armed black man, was shot to death during a struggle with Baton Rouge police on July 5, 2016, sparking national controversy. Footage of the confrontation, in which then-BRPD Officer Blane Salamoni mortally wounded Sterling, prompted widespread protests from critics who charged that Sterling’s death underscored a pattern of police brutality in black neighborhoods. Lengthy state and federal investigations yielded no charges against Salamoni, but BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, who wasn’t on the force when Sterling was shot, fired Salamoni last year. Salamoni and the department recently reached a settlement concerning his termination. In announcing the settlement, Paul said that Salamoni should never have been hired, and the chief said that in the past, “some of our policing practices have traumatized parts of our community.”
Less than two weeks after Sterling’s death, a troubled Missouri gunman, apparently bent on revenge, shot six Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, killing three of them. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brad Garafola and Baton Rouge police officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald died in the line of duty. Deputy Nick Tullier, who was among the injured lawmen who survived, was hurt so badly that he’s still struggling.
The Baton Rouge police union released a statement Friday disparaging Chief Murphy Paul's recent comments on the department's settlement agreem…
The investigation surrounding Richardson, shot in the back of the neck by an unidentified WBR sheriff’s deputy, is just beginning. Experience tells us that such probes can take a long time, which places a premium on patience. Investigators can ease public concerns by being as transparent about their work as possible. The incident has already prompted at least one demonstration. Such protests are part of public life in a democracy, and we’re heartened that so far, gatherings prompted by the Richardson case have been peaceful.
We hope that spirit continues. The summer of 2016 was a season of agony in this part of the world, and we never want to see another one like it.