The Investigators: Both involved officers have had previous use of force incidents
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The 9News Investigators combed through 660 pages of documents, specifically looking into the pasts of the two officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
The Baton Rouge Police Department identified Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II as the two officers involved in the deadly shooting that happened early Tuesday morning. On Thursday, sources said Salamoni fired all of the shots.
Salamoni has been a Baton Rouge police officer for the past four years and comes from a family of police officers. In 2014, he was awarded with a life-saver award for rescuing a man, not to mention other awards.
On June 16, 2015, Salamoni was investigated for complaints of improperly carrying out orders and use of force.
Salamoni and another officer responded to a call of a man pushed out of a moving vehicle. That led to a chase during which the "vehicle refused to stop and proceeded at a high rate of speed (approximately 85 mph)."
The chase lasted nearly 16 miles when Salamoni was able to put up street spikes which deflated the car's tires and the driver then crashed. However, even after that, the suspect "refused several loud verbal commands by officers to get on the ground. The suspect refused to show his hands and continued to walk back and forth towards the open driver side door. The suspect also continued to place his left hand behind his back."
In this case, "Chief Dabadie has determined the complaint to be not sustained," meaning it had no merit.
On Aug. 5, 2015, less than two months later, there was another use of force complaint against Salamoni.
The officer responded to Jackson Avenue in North Baton Rouge and knocked on a door where he heard screaming. According to documents, the "suspect exited the residence while screaming "f*** you" to all police officers. When Salamoni tried to pat him down for weapons, "the suspect shouted 'Get your f***ing hands off of me!.'"
Salamoni said the suspect had a "strong odor of alcohol," so he tried to arrest him for disturbing the peace but "he pulled away violently." When the officer got a hold of him, the suspect "grabbed Ofc. Salamoni's left leg and pulled him to the ground, pinned his left leg, and was able to pull his radio microphone off of his uniform."
The two continued to fight as the "suspect grabbed at his duty belt" and "reached and grabbed his taser." That's when Salamoni said "he delivered several closed hand strikes to make the suspect release his duty belt and taser."
In this case, officials cleared the policeman, saying "Ofc. Salamoni and another officer acted in the scope of their duties when using force to prevent an aggressor from causing injury or possibly disarming an officer."
Officer Howie Lake also faced an accusation for use of force on April 19, 2014.
While trying to make an arrest, the two struggled and fell to the ground and the "arrestee struck his chin on the pavement causing a cut to his chin." After an internal investigation, a letter was sent to Lake saying "Chief Dabadie has determined that you are exonerated of the allegations."
On Dec. 13, 2014, there was another use of force claim against Lake. This one involved several officers shooting at an armed suspect who was injured and survived. That suspect allegedly refused to drop his gun, threatened to kill himself and then turned the gun at officers.
All officers were cleared in that case with officials, saying "no officer present acted outside of the scope of their training nor did they violate any current departmental policy."
In a separate case, Salamoni was issued a letter of caution for crashing his police unit. As for the current officer-involved shooting, both officers remain on paid leave and have to remain either at their homes or any another approved locations and available to investigations for any questions.
The investigation into the shooting death of Sterling was handed over to the FBI.
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