The two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling on Monday have been investigated — and cleared — five times between them in their collective seven years working for the Baton Rouge police department, the New Orleans Advocate reported on Thursday.
Blane Salamoni was accused last August of hitting a man while arresting him. A month earlier, he was accused of failing to follow orders after using a Taser in the course of pursuing a suspect. The only disciplinary action levied against him was a “letter of caution” in 2012 — his first year with the department — for causing what officials called “a preventable crash.”
The Advocate also reported, citing an unidentified source, that it was Salamoni who shot and killed Sterling after pinning him to the ground outside a local convenience store. Police have said that Salamoni and Howie Lake II were investigating a report identifying Sterling as the person threatening passers-by with a gun, but footage of the shooting runs counter to their argument that the victim had a gun in his hand when he was shot.
Lake, who has been with the department since 2013, has been investigated twice for excessive force in connection with two incidents in 2014. In August, he was accused of injuring a 15-year-old boy while arresting him. Lake was also investigated in connection with the shooting that December of 28-year-old Kevin Knight, who opened fire on Lake and other officers after crashing his car during a pursuit. Knight survived the incident.
Both officers have also received several commendations during their tenures. The New Orleans Advertiser reported that they received a “life saving” award this past April.