International police union leader questions firing of cop who fatally shot Alton Sterling
Chief Murphy Paul fired Officer Blane Salamoni on Friday, saying he violated department policies on use of force and command of temper
BATON ROUGE, La. — The president of an international police union on Wednesday questioned the Baton Rouge's police chief's decision to fire the officer who fatally shot Alton Sterling in 2016, saying that the chief's boss, the mayor, told him to terminate the officer.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul fired Officer Blane Salamoni on Friday, saying he violated department policies on use of force and command of temper during his encounter with Sterling in July 2016 outside of the Triple S Food Mart.
Separate investigations were conducted by the Department of Justice who in May declined to bring federal civil rights violations against the two officers, and the Louisiana Attorney General who announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the two officers.
Sam Cabral, the president of the International Union of Police Associations, questioned if Paul's decision to fire Salamoni was a political one, according to a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“Very publicly, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome called for officer Salamoni’s termination, long before either of the two independent investigations had been completed," Cabral said. "Chief Murphy was hired by the mayor and certainly is expected to follow her direction. This termination is just that.”
The International Union of Police Associations works on legislation that impacts law enforcement officers, including the national police officers bill of rights.
Cabral said he wants to see an "impartial fact finding hearing" and a "successful appeal" of Salamoni's firing before the Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board. Salamoni's attorney said Friday that they would appeal the decision, but a timeline for that appeal has not yet been set.
Paul responded to Cabral's statement Wednesday by saying that his decision was not influenced by politics.
"My findings were based on a review of the facts presented in the disciplinary hearing," Paul said in a statement.
Paul also announced Friday that the second officer involved in the shooting, Howie Lake II, violated the command of temper policy and would serve a three-day suspension before re-joining the force.
Police published two previously unreleased videos of the encounter from the officer's body cameras and a third video from the The Triple S Food Mart surveillance cameras on Friday.
The two officers responded to the store after a man called 911 to report that a second man, matching Sterling's description, had threatened him with a gun. When Salamoni arrived seconds behind Lake, he shouted profanities at Sterling and threatened to shoot him in the head if he didn't comply. The scuffle between Sterling and the officers ended when Salamoni yelled that he thought Sterling had a gun and shot him six times. A gun was later recovered from Sterling's pocket.
Cabral said he doesn't think the events of that night are in question, and he blames Sterling for the outcome of the situation.
"Mr. Sterling’s actions, and those actions alone, determined the fatal outcome of this incident,” Cabral said.
©2018 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.